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Home · Property Management · Latest News : Renters Willing to Pay More for Nonsmoking
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landlord helpWant to get top dollar for your rentals?  Then a no-smoking policy may be your ticket to raising the rent.
Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project just conducted a renter survey and found a significant preference for nonsmoking units.  In fact, nearly a third of all renters (32 percent) in Chicago would be willing to pay more rent to live in smoke-free buildings.
The survey also found that nearly half of all renters say they would be more likely to rent an apartment or unit in a completely smoke-free building where smoking is prohibited in indoor common areas and individual units (47 percent). By comparison, 31 percent say it would make no difference and only 20 percent would be less likely to rent on those terms.
“These poll results represent a call to action for landlords and tenants alike,” declared Joel J. Africk, president and chief executive officer, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “Property owners should be proud to advertise their units’ smoke-free status; and health-conscious renters should demand smoke-free living options.”

These findings coincide with an emerging trend in the Chicago rental market whereby landlords and property managers are converting their rental properties to “non-smoking,” according to Maurice Ortiz, marketing director of the Apartment People, an apartment-finding and listing service with nearly 30,000 rental clients each year.

Studies have revealed that the cost of turning over an apartment at the end of the lease can be as much as 90 percent higher when the unit has been occupied by a smoking tenant. But it’s not just the cost savings that have property managers’ attention:  “Environmentally-friendly and health conscious properties are simply easier to rent,” says Ortiz.
The Chicago study reflects a growing awareness among prospective renters of the dangers of secondhand smoke, with 88 percent of those surveyed ranking secondhand smoke as a serious health hazard. “That awareness is shaping attitudes towards healthier lifestyles relative to tobacco exposure and a strong desire to live, work and play in smoke-free environments,” said Dave Fako, whose firm has conducted numerous polls in Illinois and other states on attitudes towards tobacco during the past decade. This poll involved a random sampling of 400 adult renters within the city of Chicago.
The Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project is releasing this survey data in the midst of tobacco “Quit Week,” Nov. 9 “ 17, 2010, a week-long citywide effort to encourage Chicagoans to quit smoking and link them to local resources.
“The goal of Quit Week is to raise awareness about the importance of smoking cessation and to provide linkages to local resources so that people who are serious about quitting can be successful,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health. “Encouraging smoke-free homes is an important strategy in our city’s winnable battle to reduce smoking rates and exposure to secondhand smoke,” he concluded.
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  • cranky landlord

    But how much longer will your vacancies sit empty by turning down qualified smoking renters?

  • BrassServices

    Not viable in California as state law precludes housing discrimination on this basis. Interesting, but you might as well regulate against people who brew coffee, or cooking smelly foods, or burning incense, or wearing perfume. Aromatics can cross property lines and enter other units, and hence are effectively impossible to control. Indeed, establishing a qualitative difference between incense and charcoal grills as different than cigarette smoke is not established by any comparative scientific studies that I’ve ever seen. Can anyone cite otherwise?


    San Jose Ca (Silicon Valley) just passed an ordinance that prohibits smoking in townhouses, condos and multi-family unit common areas indoors. I had thought that they also already had in place, an ordinance that prohibited indoor smoking in each unit. At least, this is what code enforcement had told me in 2003

    I had a woman who was very unkept, snuck-in her doberman and smoked in the unit. the tar and nicotine build up had turned every wall in that unit, to a yellow sticky and disgusting tacky texture, not to mention, a terrible smell. This woman is one of many, hostess at a nearby arena?

    the time, material and labor to get the unit back to rent-able condition was far more than the partial security deposit that she paid. 10 ft ceilings are hard to clean and paint vs 8 ft.

  • Billlie Hughes

    Why not charge smokers higher rent and security deposit? Its really getting to be extreme when we start taking rights away from people who smoke for those who dont smoke. Maybe the builders and construction people need to make places better sealed so smoke and oders doesnt come into other homes and affect them.

  • tk

    as far as i understand, you cannot discriminate against smokers, but you can have rules that do not allow smoking in your apartment. i think as long as you are clear from the start and in the lease, it is pretty easy. i have rented to a few smokers who go outside to smoke. if there is evidence of smoking in the apartment, they are responsible for additional costs for turning the apartment over. as long as you choose reasonable tenents, this works. i once had a propective tenent tell me something like “who follows those rules about smoking” …luckily she had bad credit, so it was an easy denial.

    i think having smoke free apartments shows that you care about the apartments. it also keeps the apartments in better condition, and cuts costs involved with the materials and labor for paint, carpeting, etc.

  • Sandie

    Take a look at local ordinances, state law does not prevent local ordinances and CA state law doesn’t have any “discrimination” law as it pertains to people who smoke. Smoking is not a right, nor a disability.

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