Opinions of no-smoking and no-pets?

Landlord Forums & Rental Property Questions 35 Replies

I'm really on the wall about this one, because lots of people smoke (eww... absolutely hate it...), and lots of people have pets and refuse to separate from them. And I think not allowing those 2 might narrow my potential tenants. I am pretty positive I will NOT allow smoking, because it stinks, its messy, it makes everything dirty, and its a bear to clean out. And Pets destroy stuff, create liabilities, trash the yard, and can destroy the house.

Some of the properties I'm looking at I've noticed have huge fenced in yards, so that would be a GREAT selling point for tenants... but I dont think I want to deal with cleaning, messes, pooh, and the liability of bites....

Input?

I would never allow someone to smoke in my house. The smell permiates everything.
A 20+ year property manager here recommends not allowing pets. Lots of landlords do. I just showed a rental house that had just been repainted and refloored. Why? Tenants with 3 dogs for 2+ years.

Absolutely no smoking allowed. Ever.

Pets, yes, but with restrictions. Put a lb limit on them, make them list the breed, name, and keep a picture on file. Plus a NON-refundable pet fee. Only allow a certain amount (2 pets max?) and any other pet found in house can be up to $xxx.

Allowing pets tends to keep people in place since it's harder to find places that do allow pets, but definitely filter what you allow and be strict about a damages policy.

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Great advice everybody. You dont think disallowing smoking will lower my chances of a tenant? I think it will to a point.. but I think it will keep my list of tenants to a higher "grade" and will hopefully help keep things calm and in good shape.

Also, pets.. I've thought about doing weight limits and 'meet and greets' before I allow pets to move in. I know its tough to find places, let alone NICE places that allow pets, so I think I'm going to try capitalizing on that fact.

A pound limitation and resrictining breeds is a good way to go for insurance purposes. You won't get many killer dogs under 15 lbs! Allow exceptions, there are some smaller breeds like a ****er that might be fine and there are older dogs that may just fatter than your limit.

No smoking?? I see you're not in Co or Wa! LOL Light'em if ya got'em, lol. Most of mine were non-smoking apts, not on houses. Yes, it is dirty and smelly....

Medium logoscopiccroppedblue2Bill Gulley, General Real Estate Academy | https://generalrealestateacademy.com

Thats why I think I'd have a "meet and great" clause, where I can meet the dog and see how it reacts to me and see how well it is behaved... that way even if it is a bigger dog, if I can see that it is docile I think I'd let it in.

If they smoke, they can do it OUTSIDE. Smoke permeates EVERYTHING. We had a couple friends who found a great deal on a house in NM, but the previous owners were smokers. It took them a lot of time and money to get the smell out of all of it.

Thats what I'm worried about; soaks into carpets, walls, ventilation systems etc. Plus it leaves a coating of nasty nicotine everywhere.

I find it interesting that there could be any doubt that smoking causes damage that has to be remediated. That remediation is expensive and usually unnecessary if you rent to non-smokers. That being said, smoke damage can also be caused by excessive burning of candles. I have a client for whom I had an all cedar and brick master bedroom painted white less than two years ago. It was a $2000 paint job for one room. He has since burned several cheap devotional candles 24/7. Every surface in that room is now black with soot that can't be cleaned away and will have to be repainted. At least it doesn't smell bad.

Even if your tenant pool is more limited, it's limited to tenants that won't require a repaint and recarpet when they leave. That's gotta be worth holding out for the right tenant.

My rentals are mostly in lower income areas. Everyone smokes. They also live from check to check and buy lottery tickets.

I started a no smoking policy inside. I tell them that I don't care if they smoke, but it better be outside. I was afraid that this would scare a lot of people away, but I found that they want to smoke outside. They will say something like, "We've been wanting to start smoking outside and keep the smell out of the house." They just need someone to make the rule for them. So far, it hasn't been a problem.

We used to allow pets (w/nonrefundable deposit) b/c we were nervous it would lower our tenant base also. However, it took one to ruin it for the bunch! Going forward, we will allow pets, again w/nonrefundable allowance, but will also charge an add’l fee each month, most likely around 10% of total rent. People want their pets, but there’s a cost that comes with it. Smoking….no, ick.

Originally posted by Rob K:
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I started a no smoking policy inside. I tell them that I don't care if they smoke, but it better be outside. I was afraid that this would scare a lot of people away, but I found that they want to smoke outside. They will say something like, "We've been wanting to start smoking outside and keep the smell out of the house." They just need someone to make the rule for them. So far, it hasn't been a problem.

Ditto, and part of the reason it works is that smokers are now used to it at work where most have to go outside to smoke. Then you have to decide whether to tolerate smoking on your lot area or not, as some members here are adamant about no smoking anywhere on the parcel.

Luckily for me, my last few vacancies have all been filled by non-smokers.

And luckily for me the last few new tenants have also had no pets. In fact, when I explain my pet policy to pet owners, they react as if that is just too much to comply with, so they look elsewhere. If they are scared off, then that will save me from dealing with their pets.

I just wish those with criminal records would get scared off when they read the criminal requirements of my rental criteria; I still have had to reject a few recently based on criminal record that did not comply with the criteria that I gave to them before they even looked at my application form.

I don't allow smoking inside or outside the property at all. I state this clearly in my ad and on the lease, nor do I allow the burning of candles or incense--also mentioned in the lease. Fireplaces are closed off and off limits as well. I state in the lease that damage from smoking can cost thousands of dollars (replacement of flooring, curtains, blinds, re-painting etc.) and that they are on the hook for paying for it if they lie about their habits and smoke inside. Even outside smokers will smoke inside when it gets cold--that's guaranteed.

As for pets, I do allow them. Will allow de-clawed, spayed/neutered, FEMALE indoor cats (males tend to spray urine all over the house) and dogs on a case by case basis. I don't allow certain breeds of dogs forbidden by insurance (pits, rottys, german shepards, etc) and any dog that displays aggressive tendancies--also absolutely no new dogs or puppies as they chew and are not trained to releive themselves outside. Am more likely to allow animals if one of the people on the lease stays home and is there to care for the animal during the day and it they seem to be responsible people. I also collect a $500 deposit for each pet (refundable if there is not damage) and $25-$40 (large dogs) per per additional rent. I state specifically in the lease that the additional rent does not go towards damage caused by pets. Some prefer a non-refundable pet registration fee, but I think having a deposit that they might get back encourages them to be more vigilant about taking care of the property. I state specifically that any animal waste remaining after vacancy will cost them $5 per pile if I have to clean it up.

No smoking

Pets only on a case by case basis

Originally posted by Tamara R.:
Even outside smokers will smoke inside when it gets cold--that's guaranteed.

I grew up with smokers and have had many in my life. I've never met or known an "outdoor smoker" that doesn't bend or break the "never inside rule" for this that or the the other thing. I think we've shamed smokers so much that lying has become an accepted coping mechanism.

My husband inherited his grandfather's car a few years back. His mother, a smoker, had been using it periodically. She swore that she didn't smoke in the car. We are admittedly super smoke sensitive. We really debated whether he should take it (as he would have to fly to OH and drive it back to CA). He flew out to get it. It reeked of smoke. But worse than that there were cigarette burns on the upholstery in the front and back seats. And, an aftermarket rain guard had been added to the front window.....for people who never smoke in the car. Please.

My mother in law is the cleanest person Iever met and her house is spotless, however she does smoke in her bathroom (and ours when she comes to visit). You are correct that she is ashamed and doesn't want anyone to know she smokes--especially not her grandkids. Don't ask me how she gets rid of the smell, though. You hardly ever can smell the smoke oddly enough.

Banning smokers WILL limit your tenants. I read somewhere that 70%+ percent of tenants smoke. I'm not sure if that's true among all classes.

Even so, I BAN smoking at my property. No inside smoking, no outside smoking.

Having fewer potential tenants is more than worth it to be to avoid that nasty smell. Even outside smoking brings hundreds of toxic chemicals inside that "stick" on the smoker as they come in and out. So, I say "no smokers" and ban smoking anywhere on my property-- makes smokers not want to live here at all. No one wants to walk off my property down the street to smoke. Ruins property value in a house from what I've heard. And, like people here told me, saying "outside smoking only" will lead to the person smoking inside when it's cold and maybe opening a window to smoke out of... if you're lucky.

I've been in houses and hotels where a smoker lived, and it's just not worth it.

If you've got low-income rental properties, you might need to cave and allow outside smokers. Lots of poor people smoke.

I would allow pets before allowing smokers.

I don't allow cats!!! Cat pee smells foul. Cats claw everything. Cats shed bad. I suppose a large cat deposit and a declawed cat might be worth considering.

Limit the number of dogs. Maybe limit size, or have a large deposit. Dogs also jump on doors and windows. Some pee on the floor. Except to have to replace the carpet and/or very deep clean it and factor that in to the rent/deposit $.

I will say... some older or well-trained large dogs *can* be better than yippy, small dogs that bark all day and pee all over the floor. Meeting the dog, a good deposit, and previous landlord references or training class references might make a large trained dog better than a non-trained dog.

I would allow pets because people with pets seem to stay longer. And, out of all the "bad traits" of a tenant, pets *with good previous landlord references and deposit* seem to be less awful than other bad tenant traits.

Kids can destroy houses too and are huge liabilities, like pets or smoking. Seems like a good deposit and references help lessen the damage.

I don't allow swimming pools or trampolines or dangerous breeds of dogs.
(Even though I find it sad-- not all dangerous breed dogs are dangerous.)

@Account Closed
You paid $2000 to paint one bedroom? Holy smokes. I'll paint it for half that!

@Tamara R.
Not allowing any candles at all? Whoa. I couldn't live there... I like an occasional candle. Ever had a complaint about not allowing incense/candles for religious purposes? What if your tenant cooks a lot of curry and the smell/oil residue from that gets all over the walls?

@Marian Smith

I agree that the smoke smell permeates EVERYTHING.

I had 2 smokers (who didn't mention it beforehand) come to look at my property. They were here under an hour tops, and the place smelled for 1-2 days just because they walked through the place. I've had books smell for years that I acquired from smokers. There are restaurants around here that have been non-smoking for at least 5 years, but I can still smell the smoke.

Smoking is at least one smell you can ban. Or, at least try to ban & evict if seen.

Other things-- curry and strong spices, fish, and other cooking smells-- I think you're pretty much stuck with.

Originally posted by Jon K.:

@K. Marie Poe
You paid $2000 to paint one bedroom? Holy smokes. I'll paint it for half that!

It was for a client for whom I manage special projects at their personal residences. High ceilings, all cedar, lots of coverage issues, lots of prep, high end paint job. Now that's it's damaged, I'll be sending painters in with a sprayer and call it a day.

@ Jon K: Yes, I was thinking about the policy after I lost power during hurricane Sandy. . .and had several candles burning. A lot of insurance policies do not allow for candle burning--huge liability, and after having to repaint a place after soot and wax stained the wall (and the carpet) and several burns in the carpet, that kind of hit it home. I haven't had a complaint yet, but I have less than 10 units and am fairly new at this--and my policy is fairly new. I suppose tenants will go ahead and burn them anyway, but they will be charged for repainting and fixing the stains/burned areas of the carpet.

@Tamara R.

I've never heard of insurance not covering fire damage from candles, unless they were dropped on person and used for arson. Even fire damage from stovetop fires is often covered. Do you ban oil cooking on the stove? Stovetop fires are a greater cause of property damage and loss than candles will ever be. Toasters have been known to spark. Electric heaters? Anything flammable?

Damage by candles, mud, pets, paint, wine, beverages, shoes, anything excessive should be billed to the tenant, that's for sure.

@Mattie Covatch : No I don't put any restrictions on cooking--that's something a person has to do (unless they eat out a lot). I do supply a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, though. Some landlords restrict the use of propane and charcoal grills, but I don't do that. I don't consider not allowing candle burning to be that big of a deal, but maybe I am wrong? I used to burn quite a few candles myself, but now that I have active kids and pets who are prone to knock things over I primarily use those fake candles for ambience. I haven't missed them too much.

Originally posted by Matt M:
Thats why I think I'd have a "meet and great" clause, where I can meet the dog and see how it reacts to me and see how well it is behaved... that way even if it is a bigger dog, if I can see that it is docile I think I'd let it in.

Matt, that is what we always did before we hired a property manager, and we've asked the manager to do the same thing (but finding out they don't). Within 5 minutes of meeting the dog, you can usually tell if it is aggressive or unruly. I actually advertise, "well-trained family dog allowed." I do not allow cats as the stench is unbearable, and my husband is allergic when we have to turnover. I do not put any weight limits as I've found more people with small dogs somehow think it's fine for them to pee/poo in the house (especially chihuahua's for some reason), but they are usually much more diligent about making sure a larger dog goes outside. I do have breed restrictions for insurance purposes.

I too allow dogs that I meet and seem nice (and are small). I get $25 more per month and the tenant I have now is so clean I sometimes wonder if she even lives there.

I have homes in low income and have never had a smoker apply. No experience with that.

What about carpet? My new rental has new carpet in the two bedrooms (seller put it in), tile in the rest of the house. Is it too big a risk to take cats and dogs, or should I just assume that renters in general will destroy the carpet every couple of years?