We have a new tenant about to move into one of our rental homes. The previous tenant violated the lease and smoked in the basement. The new tenant says she smells smoke throughout the house. We have washed down every wall, ceiling and hardwood floors. We do not smell any smoke. Looking for suggestions as to how to handle this situation. The tenant just picked up keys and moving in next week.
Washing surfaces very well may not solve the issue. For a heavy smoker you may need to paint the rooms, including the ceiling, to get rid of the smell. Another option is to rent an ozone generator, a lot of times that can get rid of smoke smells but it may take too long. Also, if there is carpet and a pad, you may need to replace them both.
Personally I'm not good at smelling cigarette smoke smell, I don't smoke, but it bothers me zero. Others are highly attuned to it, and don't like it. Maybe you are somewhere in the middle.
Maybe ask a few different people to come over to the rental with you and try to smell for smoke smell.
If it's there, painters have primers they can use to (try to) cover the smell (the primers I know of have a heavy solvent smell for X hours and are not for pet or human occupied dwellings).
You could offer two solutions (recommend air fresheners be used if they stay, AND (before move in) offer to let them out of the lease). If there is no smell there and they are smelling it, they may prove to be tenants with issues.
If you let them choose what they want up front, before move in, and if they choose to NOT move in, maybe you could find a tenant with less of a bloodhound nose.
If they choose TO move in, that kind of tells you, it's not that big of an issue.
How should we approach the tenant as none of these things will guarantee we will Get rid of smoke completely.
First you don't know if it's real or not, or where they smell it.
Some people are just very picky. Mrs. X who puts her nose 1 inch from the doorknob and smells it, then proclaims the whole house smells like smoke is very different than a true permeating odor of smoke throughout the unit.
Having others come over and smell for it will give you (some kind of) an idea if it need to be abated (or not).
Offering to let them out of the lease before move in (if turned down) seems to nullify the need to (try to) abate the smoke smell. If they say they want to rent, and you don't want to abate, be very clear about that upfront.
If they stay, they accepted the smell as is.
If they want out of the lease and it does smell of smoke and you don't want to abate it, find someone else (possibly a smoker who you might be able to charge an up charge to, for allowing smoking in the unit).
If it does smell of smoke, and you want to abate it, then it will cost what it costs to do it.