While exposure to secondhand smoke has decreased dramatically over the past ten years, a significant number of nonsmokers, including children, are being exposed to this danger, for one simple reason: they live in rental housing.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children whose parents rent homes are at risk for smoke-related diseases. The study revealed that forty percent of children overall — and a disproportionately high number of minority children — are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke in rental complexes.
“About 80 million Americans live in multiunit housing, where secondhand smoke can seep into smoke-free units and shared areas from units where smoking occurs,” said Brian King, Ph.D., acting deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The potential of exposure in subsidized housing is especially concerning because many of the residents — including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities — are particularly sensitive to the effects of secondhand smoke.”
These statistics are a problem for landlords, who stand to lose if their tenants become ill. Secondhand smoke has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children, as well as heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in adult nonsmokers. The science is well-known and accepted by judges and juries who have shown little hesitation in assigning liability and awarding tenants damages against landlords who do too little to quell secondhand smoke complaints.
These complaints can be difficult to resolve without expensive modifications, like ventilation upgrades, or even evicting tenants who create a nuisance by smoking in their rental units.
The best way to avoid the liability is to limit cigarette smoking in individual units and throughout a rental property, including the outdoor access areas.
Local smoking bans continue to expand nonsmokers’ rights. To date, 26 states, the District of Columbia, and almost 700 cities have passed comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in worksites, restaurants, and bars. These state and local laws currently cover almost half the US population, according to CDC. Also, as many as eighty-three percent of households are smoke-free. Limiting smoking in rental properties is the logical next step.
Stay ahead of the curve by adopting a smoke-free rental policy now, and enjoy the many benefits, including an increase in the number of qualified applicants interested in your next vacancy.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.