Can you refuse to rent to smokers?

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02/06/2015 | Author: Editorial Staff

I manage rental properties for a client who doesn’t want people smoking on his property. If we deny a potential tenant’s application because he or she smokes, will this violate any federal fair-housing laws?

No, this will not violate federal fair-housing laws. Federal fair-housing laws make it illegal for the landlord to choose tenants based on their race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap, and familial status. However, people who smoke are not a protected class. A landlord can refuse to lease to potential tenants who smoke as long as the landlord consistently enforces such prohibition.

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Categories: Legal, Landlords, Renters
Tags: property management, leasing, legal, legal faq, fair housing


Gerald Vokolek on 02/13/2015

The owner of the property determines the conditions under which they will rent the property. As long as their conditions do not violate the federal Fair Housing laws.
I believe the consistency spoken about is using the same standard for each applicant.
The “no smoking” requirement should be part of the lease. You probably want to be specific whether smoking in not permitted IN the property or ON the property.
I suggest you call your title company attorney to get the best wording for this provision of the lease.

Janet Stafford on 02/06/2015

The word consistent bothers me.  Exactly how are we to monitor that the tenant is actually not smoking in the property?  Yes, I know, visit the property….but how often to “visit” is another thing.  Most of the time you don’t know until they vacate the property.  Does EVERY property you manage have to have these same rules?  It should be a matter of the property, not the renter…......for some it is OK & for others, devastating.  Can we require tenants “of some of the better properties” to carry renter’s insurance??  This should solve the problem and pay to repaint or recarpet.  USAA pd a claim once for me on “heavy candle burners”  to clean & repaint a house; I got the house to sell & was not the property mgr.

Clayton Collins on 02/06/2015

the important thing is to maintain consistency.  As long you have the same standards for everyone, it isn’t a problem, it’s the same way with pets

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