Though the use of cigarettes is down, another new trend has taken over: e-cigarettes. 1 out of every 3 Americans claims to vape daily. That’s why it is important to think about how this will affect your tenant pool and lease agreements. After all, a no smoking policy is normal to see in a lease.
But should you be flexible and allow e-cigarettes in your non-smoking rental property?
Deciding whether e-cigarettes is the same thing as “smoking” and whether to allow them in your rental property can be tricky. That’s why we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about allowing e-cigarettes in your non-smoking rental property.
What Are E-Cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that look like cigarettes. They use liquid nicotine to produce a mist or vapor that people can inhale. When someone tries to inhale the vapor, a heating coil boils the nicotine and the steam is sucked in. This is why it’s called “vaping” and not smoking.
The interesting thing about e-cigarettes is that they don’t use tobacco like traditional cigarettes. Plus, they are designed to look exactly like cigarettes, cigars, or even pipes. More so, some e-cigarettes look like ordinary devices like USB memory sticks or pens.
Are E-Cigarettes Safe?
One of the most common reasons for vaping rather than smoking is that vaping is thought to be safer.
Here’s why e-cigarettes are said to be safer than traditional cigarettes:
- There is less nicotine delivered per inhalation of the vapor
- The chemicals produced are less toxic
- The vapor is not burnt tobacco, so it’s not as harmful
- The smell and act of smoking tobacco is just that – an act – it’s really just a flavored aerosol
That said, there isn’t much research about the health risks of vaping. Though they do not contain the same cancer-causing tobacco that traditional cigarettes do, there are often many unregulated chemicals in the liquid nicotine solution. This is why some experts still claim that e-cigarettes are toxic and should be avoided.
Vaping and Tenant Rights
Since vaping is considered by many to be much safer than cigarettes, people continue to fight for their right to vape – even in rental properties. However, landlords have the right to restrict tobacco use on their properties. And despite the fact that e-cigarettes do not use tobacco, they do emit harmful and smelly vapors into the air.
In the end, non-smoking tenants look for rental properties that are 100 percent smoke-free. This means they look for rentals that have no trace of traditional or e-cigarette smoke. Because of this, many landlords choose to have a no smoking rule in their rentals to accommodate those tenants. If the majority of tenants interested in leasing your rental are non-smokers, this might be the best approach for you.
Does Vaping Damage Rental Properties?
Another thing to consider before allowing e-cigarettes in your non-smoking rental property is the potential damage they can cause to your property.
- Fire Damage: e-cigarettes do not have a flame like a traditional cigarette. However, they still heat up and pose a fire hazard if not handled correctly. Though you should have homeowner’s insurance, the last thing you want to deal with is a fire in your property. Not to mention, someone could be seriously injured in a fire.
- Residue Buildup: traditional cigarettes leave a residue on walls and a stench that can be difficult to get rid of. E-cigarettes don’t produce as much residue, but it can still be a hassle to clean.
If you allow e-cigarettes in your non-smoking rental property, you risk damage to your property. Plus, it could be harder to lease to non-smokers in the future.
E-Cigarettes and a Habitable Rental
Your tenants have a right to a habitable living space. In other words, it’s your legal responsibility to provide a rental that is:
- Livable for tenants
- Free from vermin and pests
- With working plumbing and electricity
- Free from mold and lead paint hazards
- Safe to live in
In addition, your tenants may claim that a habitable rental property also includes the absence of second-hand smoke or vapor.
There are two sources of second-hand smoke or vapor in your rental property:
- Previous tenants smoking or vaping may leave behind the smoke or vape fumes
- Nearby tenants in a multi-unit rental may affect another property by smoking or vaping nearby
Tenants that prefer a non-smoking rental can make the claim that second-hand smoke or vape fumes are unhealthy and violate the laws requiring you to provide a habitable living space.
Quiet Enjoyment in Your Rental Property
All tenants have the right to the “quiet enjoyment” while leasing from you. This includes not having to deal with excessive noise, harassment, illegal activities, and even smells.
This is especially a problem if you own a multi-unit rental and are the landlord to more than one tenant.
For example, your tenants can complain about heavy barbeque smells, loud music playing, and even the smell of tobacco smoke. As a landlord, it’s your job to make sure all your tenants are happy. If you receive a complaint for any of those things, you might be violating your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment. If you don’t remedy the problem, you could find yourself in the middle of a landlord-tenant dispute. Worse yet, your tenant may break the lease without having to give a notice to vacate.
Florida Law on E-Cigarettes
The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act of 2003 outlines some smoking regulations. Most of the rules found in this act relate to smoking restrictions within indoor workplaces. There are currently no laws that prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in public places. It is assumed in Florida that all signage about smoking laws do not apply to e-cigarettes.
Lastly, it’s difficult to find information about the use of e-cigarettes in rentals. This means it is up to the landlord to decide whether to allow e-cigarettes or not.
Reasons to Not Allow E-Cigarettes in Your Florida Rental Property
Here are some of the most common reasons to restrict e-cigarette use in your non-smoking Florida rental property:
- Damage to Your Rental: though there are claims that e-cigarettes don’t leave behind a smell or residue, it can happen. It’s best to avoid the cost of having to clean that mess up at the end of the lease term.
- Smaller Tenant Pool: allowing e-cigarettes in your rental can cause some high-quality tenants that prefer non-smoking properties to look elsewhere. Even if you prohibit traditional cigarette use, some people may not consider leasing from you.
- Monitoring Difficulties: many e-cigarettes were designed to look exactly like traditional cigarettes. If you prohibit traditional cigarettes, but allow e-cigarettes, monitoring your tenants’ use of either will be tricky. There will be no way for you to tell the difference between the two. This puts your property at risk for being exposed to traditional cigarette smoke and smells.
In the end, no matter what your final decision is, the key is drafting an airtight lease agreement that outlines the rules clearly. Your tenants should agree to your lease provisions so there is no confusion. In addition, they should understand the consequences for breaking the rules.
Are you in need of an experienced and knowledgeable Palm Beach property management company? If so, contact us today and see how we can help you navigate the use – or non-use – of e-cigarettes in your rental property.
At Home Sales and Property Management, we understand the need for solid lease agreements that both you and your tenants agree to. That’s why we strive to hear your concerns and appease any fears you have about tenants that won’t care for your rental the way you want them to.
With reliable property managers on hand to help you find high-quality tenants, we guarantee the highest ROI, your full satisfaction, and routine property inspections to ensure your best asset is in good hands. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy your investment property without having to lift a finger.
Give us a call today to find out how we can help you with full-service property management and home sales.