smoking rules in housing
rights, resources, and information
"Smokefree" Housing: How Do Fair Housing Laws Relate to No-Smoking Rules?
-What is "Smokefree" Housing?
"Smokefree" has become shorthand in the housing industry for a property that has no-smoking rules. One can not guarantee that no smoke has, does, or will occur onsite; it simply refers to a policy that prohibits smoking on all or part of the property.
Yes. According to the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council, “Owners and managers have every right to restrict smoking in and on their property. Smoking is not a protected class under federal, state, or local fair housing laws.”
If you take a look at the list of protected classes in Oregon and SW Washington, you’ll see that smoking is not a protected class. What this means is it is not considered illegal housing discrimination to set policies that restrict smoking in a residential unit, building, or entire property so long as the policy is applied and enforced consistently.
As fewer and fewer people smoke, and most smokers smoke outside, finding a home with no evidence of smoking (to the eyes and the nose) is becoming an important priority for today's buyers. 91% of Oregonians prefer housing that has not been smoked in (Oregon Tobacco Facts and Laws 2011). Visit http://www.smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/SellingProperties.html for two tools that can help sellers prepare their homes for market and two more pieces--customizable articles Realtors(R) can use with their clients and prospects.
If one has a disability as defined by fair housing law, s/he may be able to ask for a "reasonable accommodation" or “reasonable modification” to allow him/her to make full use and enjoyment of the home.
Reasonable modifications are structural changes made to a unit that are necessary because of one's disability. Reasonable accommodations are changes in the rules, policies, and practices that necessary because of one’s disability.
In the case of secondhand smoke, a resident with asthma or heart disease whose condition is made worse by the presence of secondhand smoke might request a no-smoking rule be adopted or ask to be moved to a non-smoking building; perhaps separate ventilation or sealing off the unit will alleviate the situation.
For more information about disability as protected class under fair housing laws visit www.FHCO.org/disability.htm
Oregon and Washington each have laws that address smoking in housing and / or public places.
Oregon Disclosure Law
As of January 1st, 2010, all residential rental properties in the state of Oregon are required to notify new renters of any smoking rules. You can view the language of the law at http://www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measpdf/hb2100.dir/hb2135.en.pdf.
The law states that the rental agreement "must include a disclosure of the smoking policy for the premises on which the dwelling is located. The disclosure must state whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the entire premises or allowed in limited areas on the premises. If the smoking policy allows smoking in limited areas on the premises, the disclosure must identify the areas on the premises where smoking is allowed.” You can learn more here:
Smokefree Workplace Laws
Oregon and Washington both have laws restricting smoking in public places that would include the common areas of your housing complex such as the laundry room, community room, management office, etc., as well as places of employment (this may impact housing complexes where management and / or maintenance staff work). Learn more here:
If you're looking for a home in the Portland-Vancouver area, you can search for your preference in smoking rules free of charge at www.HousingConnections.org!
What other resources are available to me?
If your rental or sales property is located in the Portland-Vancouver area, you can post your property free of charge at www.HousingConnections.org!
For more information on "going smokefree" we invite you to view this 10-minute video:
Within The Portland-Vancouver Area
What other resources are available to me?
Secondhand smoke in housing poses a special hazard. Visit the American Lung Association in Oregon's website to learn the facts.
In addition, if you're a housing provider, you'll find that a no-smoking rule will allow you to protect your property from damage, fires, and excessive wear and tear. it will save on turnover costs between residents.
And, not least important, you will also realize a substantial market advantage. As more people become aware of the health hazards of secondhand smoke, no-smoking is an amenity that most people want.
A 2008 survey of Oregon renters found that most would prefer to live in non-smoking environments:
To view the 2008 survey visit http://smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/Facts%20and%20Figures.html#renetersurvey. For more information about converting to a no-smoking property and to view a 2006 Portland-Vancouver market survey, visit http://smokefreehousingnw.com and follow the Landlord button to the Market Demand section.
A subsequent 2009 Portland / Vancouver market survey quantified the growing trend of no-smoking policies in multi-unit housing.
To view this latest survey visit http://smokefreeoregon.com/housing/whats_new/2009%20Benchmark%20Portland-Vancouver%20Renter%20Survey.pdf
If you're a landlord, first, visit the Landlord's How-To-Guide at http://smokefreehousingnw.com. This will give you ideas and suggestions including resident surveys, how to announce the new policy, etc.
Next, visit http://smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/Landlord%20tools.index.html#leaselanguage for sample lease language, order signs and stickers for your property, and read up on enforcement tools.
Finally, contact the following organization to purchase local rental forms and addendums that address this issue:
If you are a homeowners association or other housing provider other than a landlord, the resources listed above should provide a good model for you in your efforts to impliment a no-smoking rule. And, be sure to visit http://smokefreehousingnw.org's pages dedicated to Homeowners Associations and Buyers and Sellers!
Do you know or work with people who are in dispute over drifting smoke in their homes? The Mediation Fact Sheet available at www.FHCO.org/pdfs/SFmedationFactSheet.pdf may prove very helpful!
There are some great websites with a wealth of information available to you. If you don't find the information you need online, contact your county health department's Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for further assistance.
'Still Have Questions? Follow the link below to find your county health department's Tobacco Prevention Education Program (TPEP) Coordinator:
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