Dear Consumer Ed:
Can a landlord forbid smoking in an apartment?
Consumer Ed says:
Yes, landlords have the right to restrict or prohibit smoking the same way they can prohibit things like waterbeds or excessive noise. Generally, a no-smoking policy would be part of the lease agreement. When tenants sign a lease agreement, they agree to be bound by its terms. Tenants who violate the terms of their lease risk early lease termination or eviction.
However, if the current fixed-term lease does not contain a no-smoking policy, a landlord cannot add a new policy before the lease expires – unless the tenant agrees to the change in writing. In Georgia, when a month-to-month rental agreement is in place, a landlord can only make a change after giving the tenant 60 days’ notice, in writing, before the new policy begins.
More generally, tenants don’t have a universal right to smoke in their apartments. There is no state or federal law that provides people with the freedom to smoke when and where they want, nor are bans on smoking considered to be discriminatory under the law. If the landlord has a no-smoking policy for the rental property, he/she has the right to refuse to rent to an applicant who discloses the intention to smoke in the apartment.
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