You have the right to make your property smoke-free. Here's what you should know:
• It's Your Choice. If tenants are smoking in your apartment building, and you wish to eliminate the health risks of secondhand smoke, not to mention smoke damage and fire hazards, it is completely up to you as the landowner to make that choice.
• Existing Smokers. In privately owned, non-subsidized housing, the written contract (lease or rental agreement) you have with your tenants determines your rights and responsibilities. The lease or rental agreement governs whether and how changes may be made during the term of the agreement. It also determines what you are required to do in order to change the terms of the lease at the time of renewal.
For units in public housing and other subsidized housing, you may establish a no-smoking policy for new tenants while allowing existing tenants to continue to smoke in their units as long as they live there, but you are not required to do so. For existing tenants who smoke, you may add a no-smoking provision to the lease at the time it is renewed, as long as the appropriate housing authority has approved the lease change if such approval is required (60 days notice is usually required). For further information, contact the appropriate housing authority.
For additional information, read the opinion of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and an independent analysis of the authority of housing authorities and Section 8 multiunit housing owners to adopt smoke-free policies in their residential units.
• You've Got Support. Public officials and public health organizations, including the Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine, can help you establish a smoke-free policy.