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by Robert Griswold

Cigarette photoQ: I am preparing to rent out my home and was advised that it may be illegal or challenged if I request nonsmokers only.

If my family ever moves back to the home, my daughter is asthmatic and the smoke residue may cause a health risk.

Can I request nonsmokers only? A: I have seen some tenant-landlord attorneys express the opinion that any attempt to limit tenancy to nonsmokers would be discriminatory.

I am not an attorney, but as a property manager I think the key fact that would allow you to have a “nonsmoking” policy for your rental home is to control the behavior and not the personal characteristics of the tenants.

In other words, just like at hotels and on airplanes, there are clearly nonsmoking areas but individuals that participate in the personal behavior of smoking are still allowed and the only limit is that they cannot smoke.

So I would think you would be fine as long as you make it clear that you have a nonsmoking policy and not get into questions of whether or not an individual is a smoker. I suggest you check out the Web site for more information.

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies” and co-author of “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.” E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at [email protected].

Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually. What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Copyright 2008 Inman News

See Robert Griswold’s feature, Dead Landscaping to Cost Landlord Thousands.

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