Rent This Apartment: No Pets, No Cigarettes

Companies and entire cities–such as Chicago, which banned all indoor smoking, starting on January 1, 2008–are encouraging smokers to put out their cigarettes. Could apartment owners be next?

Maybe. Citywide smoking bans in places like New York and Chicago have been successful–just last week, Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Mason said the ban, which is not even six months old, had been accepted across the city.

Companies are also trying to get smokers to quit because it reduces their health insurance costs–although for some companies, it’s a touchy subject.

Last week, the 16,000-strong Tribune Company recently rescinded on a plan to
charge its 600 smokers an additional $100 a month for insurance, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Tribune Company is now considering a program that would offer employees benefits for stopping smoking. And it’s not alone.

More than half of 453 large employers surveyed in a report by the National Business Group on Health
and consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide are offering financial incentives to help employees be more healthy; that includes incentives to quit smoking, Newsweek says.

Twenty-four percent more employers say they’ll offer health improvement bonuses in 2009.

And now, apartments may be getting in on the anti-smoking action. According to ABC News, California is considering making all its rental housing smoke-free.

  • New legislation being considered by a state senate committee that would allow rental housing owners to ban smoking on all or part of their property.
  • The bill–proposed by State Senator Alex Padilla–would let renters smoke within their units until the lease they signed prior to the bill’s passing expired.

And then: No more puffing.

If renters do, it would be considered a breach of the agreement–and they could be evicted.

Regulating unit use if it affects the unit–i.e., no repainting walls, no knocking them downs–is one thing, but should property owners and managers have the right to regulate what residents do inside the unit with their body?

Perhaps. Smoking can discolor walls, leave an odor and require repainting, which adds an expense for the owner.

But a large part of the restaurant smoking ban opposition has revolved around personal rights–and when a renter is paying to reside in a unit for a given amount of time, do we have the right to limit what they do in that unit (within reason)?

What do you think–would a smoking ban for rental properties be fair, or wouldn’t it?