Government data suggests that almost 54 per cent of the UK’s remaining smokers are tenants - and against that backdrop, an online property management firm has set out a strategy to minimise the problem for landlords and other tenants.
Howsy says smoking can devalue a landlord’s property, as nicotine and chemicals can build up in walls, floors, surfaces and the furniture, in addition to being a major fire risk.
Howsy’s strategy begins by reminding landlords that they could advertise for non-smoking tenants, or they could include a clause in tenancy agreements stating that smoking is not permitted and if the tenant asks for consent to smoke this could be refused.
“If you are a landlord of an HMO, shared areas of the property are impacted by the Smoke Free Law of 2017, which makes it illegal to smoke in publicly enclosed spaces” says the firm.
If a tenant is in situ and smoking indoors, against a landlord’s wishes, the online platform suggests that the issue should be flagged with them.
And the landlord should check insurance too, says Howsy, as a policy that’s set for a non-smoking tenant could be voided if as claim is made.
“If they continue to heavily smoke indoors despite warnings, you could ask them for a larger deposit to cover the cost of refurbishing the place once they leave. You could also hike their rent after the fixed term finishes, which should compensate for the damage or persuade them to leave” it suggests.
However, it cautions against the drastic step of trying to evict a tenant for smoking as this could ultimately involve a legal case with an uncertain outcome.
“Having a heavy smoker in your property isn’t necessarily something to be avoided, but should that person be unable to respect your wishes and smoke outside, it could cause more than friction and in fact, dent the profitability of your rental investment” explains Howsy founder and chief executive Calum Brannan.