Should E-Cigarettes Be Allowed in Rental Properties?

by Chris on May 12, 2014

Often, rental applications will ask whether the tenant smokes cigarettes. Does that include e-cigarettes?

If you are one of the many landlords who have gone smoke-free, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the many benefits of non-smoking rentals. But, how do you stand on e-cigarettes?

tenant screeningE-cigarettes are devices that look similar to cigarettes, but they operate electronically. The system uses liquid nicotine to produce a mist or vapor that can be inhaled. The process is powered by a rechargeable battery.

From the smoker’s perspective, using e-cigarettes isn’t “smoking”, and the vapor produced is not “secondhand” smoke. Sometimes these cigarettes are advertised as acceptable to use in places regular cigarettes are not.

It’s no surprise that many tenants believe e-cigarettes are not included in a smoking ban. Some may even answer “no” when asked if they smoke. If the lease or rules are silent on the issue, tenants may think that e-cigarettes are an exception.

But many experts are warning that e-cigarettes are not the “green” option that many tenants believe.

Recent studies have shown that while e-cigarettes produce less secondhand smoke — about 20% compared to regular cigarettes — the vapors from these products are toxic. The Surgeon General has found that there is no safe level for secondhand smoke. In addition to nicotine and other cancer-causing chemicals, including a chemical used in antifreeze, e-cigarette refills can contain fatal doses of nicotine.

At least three recent reports have pointed to an unexpected danger of e-cigarettes. Two people reported car fires believed to be caused by a cigarette battery charger, and recently a man said his charger caught fire during the night while he was sleeping and he was forced to evacuate his apartment. Manufacturers include warnings about battery mishaps in advertisements.

Another disadvantage of e-cigarettes is based on perception. If other tenants have to honor a smoking-ban, seeing the devices — which look very similar to regular cigarettes — could trigger complaints.

Some cities are looking at extending their smoking bans to include e-cigarettes. Bisnow’s Multifamily newsletter reports that 64% of its readers are in favor of banning e-cigarettes in multifamily buildings.

Apartment owners and managers have the right to regulate tobacco use in rental housing, including e-cigarettes. What will you do?

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.

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