There are various laws that have a bearing on the issue of smoking in residential rental accommodation in Ontario. This section provides a brief description of these laws.
Download the fact sheet Smoke-Free Policies Make Good Dollars and Sense.
A no-smoking policy is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce costs. If smoking is permitted in your building, you are no doubt already aware of the damage that it can do to your property, including:
- Burn marks in counter tops, carpets, flooring, etc.;
- A distinct lingering odour that permeates laminates, carpets, flooring, drywall, etc.; and
- Smoke residue (“tar”) on walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Landlords report that it typically costs between 2 and 3 times as much money to turn over a smoking unit compared to a no-smoking unit. Where heavy smoking has occured, turn-over costs can escalate. One landlord recently told us that it cost her $25,000 to turn over a unit where someone had smoked heavily–the damage was so extensive that the walls and insulation had to be removed.
According to industry sources, one of the biggest challenges of cleaning up a unit is removing the smoke odour and residue. However, keeping them smoke-free will result in significant benefits for landlords and managers, and the results will be more appealing to future tenants.
A no-smoking policy will reduce the risk of fires at your rental properties, which in turn could have an impact on insurance rates over the long run. According to the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal, cigarettes, cigars and pipes remain the #1 ignition source of fatal residential fires.
Cigarette fires are typically the result of careless handling of lit cigarettes, such as leaving a lit cigarette unattended, smoking in bed or smoking while under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs or medication. As a result, fires ignited by smokers’ materials have a much higher fatality rate than those started by cooking equipment, another common ignition source for house fires.
Landlords should also note that a fire in a multi-unit dwelling can not only take the affected unit off the market for months, but smoke and water damage to adjoining units can take them off the market for months as well.
Many landlords report that adopting a no-smoking policy has resulted in a reduction in the number of complaints from tenants about second-hand smoke seeping into their homes from neighbouring units.
A survey of apartment owners and managers in British Columbia found that:
- Over one in five landlords receive complaints about second-hand smoke;
- The greatest source of second-hand smoke transfer is from balconies and open windows; and
- The most effective policy to reduce complaints from tenants is one that bans smoking in all units and outside on balconies (versus restricting smoking in units only, or in specific sections only).