8th July 2017
Each week, we answer a reader’s rental property question, from first-time landlords to experienced owners. Agony Agent, is here to help!
Q: I think my tenant has been smoking in the property but I am not sure. What should I do?
A: For the majority of landlords, smoking indoors is a big no. In all of our tenancy agreements, smoking is prohibited as the damage and issues it can cause can be high. However, this doesn’t stop some tenants from breaking the rules.
Cigarette smoke tends to linger even if attempts have been made to cover it. In many cases tenants who smoke indoors will do their best to cover their tracks by using candles and strong air fresheners or plug-in diffusers to remove the stench. As we know, cigarette smoke tends to stick very well to clothes and furniture, and more often than not, you will be able to tell if smoking has been taking place in a room as it will be apparent on curtains, carpets, furniture and bedding. What’s more, cigarette stains can be left on walls, curtains and lamps. The stains will generally be yellow or brown and may only be very small but still could be signs of smoking. Smoke stains will generally show up on wallpaper or paintwork, even if the walls have recently been repainted. Nicotine eventually sweats through even the toughest sort of paint – and attempts to cover stains will generally fail in the long-term. There may be evidence of ash trays, or other items being used as ash trays like mugs, bowls and plates – which you may also spot during a routine inspection. Cigarette burns on carpets and furniture are also impossible to disguise, and if drastic efforts have been made to keep certain parts of the property out of view this should be taken as suspicious.
In other words, if smoking has been taking place in a house, it should be fairly apparent, even if drastic steps have been taken to disguise it. If you know the tell-tale signs to look for, then you should be able to work out for sure if smoking has been taking place indoors. In some cases, if you confront tenants about this, they may admit it. In other cases, they may deny it, but flying off the handle wildly accusing them of smoking is not the best approach, especially if your suspicions have no proof. It needs to be made clear to tenants what is stated in the tenancy agreement so there is no confusion or crossed wires. Some tenants may simply be unaware of the rules regarding smoking, and you will need to make this clear to them. Where damage has been caused, and repairs are needed, you must make it clear to tenants that they’ve signed a tenancy agreement which states that smoking was not allowed in the rental property; as a result, their deposit will have to be used to offset any damage caused.
As a landlord, there isn’t a great deal you can do to prevent tenants from breaking the rules when it comes to smoking. In the vast majority of cases tenants will adhere to the tenancy agreement, but a small minority may break the rules.
Please email the office if you have a lettings question that we might be able to help you with.