Under Utah law:
- Secondhand smoke that drifts into another person’s residential unit is considered a nuisance that residents may seek injunctive relief and/or damages over.
- Condominium associations may restrict smoking in units, common areas, and yard space.
- Apartment rental contracts may prohibit smoking in units, on the premises, or both.
- Apartment renters may file a nuisance action over secondhand smoke even if they have signed away their rights to file a nuisance in a rental contract.
As a resident of an apartment or condo, you have options to address drifting secondhand smoke that is affecting you and your family:
Talk to the person who is smoking
- If you know where the smoke is coming from and you feel comfortable, try politely talking to the person. Tell them that you are being exposed to drifting smoke, and ask if they can smoke outside or use fans when they smoke inside.
Talk to your landlord
- Inform your community manager or property management company about the problem and ask them to adopt a smoke-free policy if they don’t already have one in place. Share with them information regarding the cost and health benefits of a smoke-free policy.
- If they are unwilling to adopt a smoke-free policy, ask if there is another apartment unit available that is away from drifting secondhand smoke.
- Ask if they can install door sweeps or change air filters in your building’s ventilation system.
Talk to other residents
- If you are experiencing issues with drifting secondhand smoke, it’s likely other residents are, too. Talk to them and gain support for a smoke-free policy; you can even create a petition for your landlord or property management company.
Seek other, smoke-free housing
- Before renting, always ask if there is a smoke-free policy.
- Check out the Salt Lake County Smoke-Free Housing Map that shows apartments and condos with smoke-free policies.
- Document all communication with your landlord or community manager.
- Keep a log with dates and times of when you notice secondhand smoke drifting into your residence.
For Managers & Owners
Why Go Smoke-Free?
- Save money: Units are more expensive to turn over if someone has smoked inside.
- Demand is high: 90.5% of Utahns do not smoke.
- Risk of fire decreases: Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and other smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
Smoke-free policies are illegal.
False—under Utah law, secondhand smoke is considered a nuisance. This means that apartment managers and owners have the authority to prohibit smoking on their property, including all rental units. Having a smoke-free policy is no different than having a policy against pets or loud noise.
Prohibiting smoking is discriminatory to those who smoke.
False—smokers are not a protected legal class, which means there is no law that states there is a “right to smoke.”
Enforcing the policy will be difficult.
False—smoking is not easy to hide. Residents of your complex can be helpful in identifying those that are breaking the rules and smoking in areas where it is prohibited. Following through with violations of the leases is also very important.
How to Implement a Smoke-Free Policy
- Make a Plan—Decide whether all or part of your property will become smoke-free, and when you are going to implement the new policy.
- Hold a Meeting—Gather your employees and residents for an informational meeting to explain why you’ve decided to go smoke-free and how the change will benefit them.
- Inform Your Residents—Formally notify your residents of the change, when it will take place, and what the policy will include.
- Amend Your Lease—Update the language in your lease to include the new smoke-free policy.
- Post Signs—Remind residents and inform visitors of the new policy by posting signs throughout the property. The health department will provide you with aluminum signs or vinyl window clings at no cost to you!
- Enforce Your New Policy—Be empowered to educate, warn, and enforce the new smoke-free policy so your residents know that improving the community’s health is important and that you’re serious about the items in your lease.
- Promote Your Smoke-Free Status—Advertise your new status to attract residents who are interested in smoke-free living.