Tenant Smoking Issues

July 23rd, 2010 · 71 Comments · Property Management, Rental Property, Tenant Resources

I got a tenant question yesterday about an important issue. Smoking in apartments is a problem for both landlords and tenants alike. The situation gets worse when tenants smoke pot. The reek of marijuana smoke hangs in the halls.

When I moved in the landlord told me no one smoked here. Now that I’ve moved in the people downstairs smoke and it comes up the vents. My roommate has asthma and it smells so bad. I looked and it’s not in my lease though. I talked to the landlord and he has talked to the people downstairs but they don’t smoke. I live in Calgary, Alberta. There is a smoking bylaw here but it doesn’t include on ones own home. What do I do????

Smokers Rights

A smoker has the right to smoke in their apartment. In Ontario there have been no successful cases that evict a tenant for smoking, even when non smoking is in the lease.

Non-Smokers Rights

Non smokers have the right to not smoke in their place. Every resident should have the right to not be invaded by smoke and fish, curry, cabbage and other offensive smells. Even cleaning products can be a problem! One landlord I know had to go to hospital when her tenants used Lysol to clean their place. She’s highly allergic to it.

Air Quality Issues in Multi-Res

When most rental buildings were built, the population of those buildings was pretty uniform. Smoking was allowed everywhere. The cultural diversity was minimal. Vents from each apartment join on each floor then vent to a central stack on the roof. Depending on the size of the high rise there may be fans on the roof to help this process. When it’s windy or the fans don’t work properly the air can blow back into each apartment after combining. This doesn’t happen all the time. The hallways are not vented at all so any rotten smell lingers. When they built these buildings no one gave it a thought.

New buildings have pressurized hallways and stairwells. Air is pushed into the common areas and air flows from common areas into the apartment. This keeps any revolting smells people make in their apartment.

Air Quality Issues in Houses

Houses with forced air furnaces have vents that efficiently distribute any smell from second suites throughout the house. I once had tenants who smoked pot in my own house. There’s nothing more thrilling than to come home to the smell of marijuana after a long day’s work then having to go talk to your completely stoned tenant.

Smokers Don’t Smell Their Own Stink!

People who smoke can’t smell that they stink. They can’t smell it on themselves or while they are smoking it. This is true of both marijuana and tobacco. This is why when you aren’t home they think they can have a smoke under their stove hood or bath fan and no one can smell it. They are wrong. When it’s 40 below outside it’s no fun to smoke in the cold when your landlord or fellow tenants aren’t even home. Surely no one will notice!

The Law

The smoker has the right to smoke. You have the right to not smoke. Those rights are equal. The government is not going to start evicting people because they smoke any time soon even if non-smoking is part of the lease. Why? It’s a slippery slope from cigarette stink to other offensive odours. They just don’t want to go there! Then you have the problem of where are all the smokers going to live? They can’t all be kicked out of their buildings and live on the street!

What Landlords Think About Smokers

We’d rather not have them. Smokers ruin paint, stink up the halls and the odd time cause fires. It we have a choice between a smoker and a non smoker we’ll go with the non-smoker. We can’t do a damn thing about smoking in our buildings so we just leave it alone. Pot smoking is the same. I’ve actually personally knocked on doors and told people to smoke their joint on the balcony and not stink up the halls. I’ve never enjoyed explaining to the complaining residents what “that horrible smell is”.

What Should I Do?

My advice is to find an apartment in a house where the owner lives. This means you’ll have to get along with your landlord. These landlords are not professionals as a general rule so you’ll have a much more informal relationship. It’s a pretty fair bet that your landlord won’t start smoking. If you rent in a house with other tenants and they don’t smoke when they move the new people might and then you have to move again. Your landlord can do nothing except talk to penalize the smokers.

The other option is to rent in a new building that has air quality measures installed. This will obviously cost more.

Those are my helpful hints for people trying to avoid smoke. Landlords cannot kick out smokers even if they signed a lease in Ontario anyways.

Happy Non Smoking!

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71 Comments so far ↓

  • JW

    I heard recently that there were efforts to set-up non-smoking buildings in Toronto but that they didn’t go anywhere — there is no legal recourse against smokers even if it is written in the lease that smoking is prohibited.

    We have had related problems in the past (very allergic to cigarette smoke and pet dander) and once made the mistake of living on the top floor of a 60s-era high-rise in Toronto. The exhaust fans on the roof were sub-standard and all of the cigarette smoke, cooking grease, and pet dander from apartments all the way down the building ended up in our unit.

    We ended up moving out after about two months and camped out in friends’ basements for a while. The management company (large and well-known in Toronto) was not forthcoming and we needed a doctor’s note about acute asthmatic reactions to get out of the lease.

    The solution for us was to move to a unit in a duplex — not owner-occupied, but the owner was very selective about his tenants. Even still, the downstairs tenant took up smoking for a while — he didn’t smoke in the apartment, but graciously went outside and smoked on the back steps (right underneath our bedroom window).

    Even the house we rent isn’t perfect — the neighbours are chain-smokers and the high density of the neighbourhood has their living-room window just a few feet from ours. You can’t win!

    The solution for people who are allergic to smoke or asthmatic is probably just to avoid multi-unit buildings altogether, or to buy — preferably somewhere with either a lot of space or a lot of shrubbery between houses.

    • Al

      “The solution for people who are allergic to smoke or asthmatic is probably just to avoid multi-unit buildings altogether, or to buy” – nice if you can afford it. Not so easy in places with low vacancy rates and high rents. And although this site is primarily about rental properties, people run into this same problem with condos as well and it’s not so easy to move. And why should I be forced to give up my home because a neighbor is addicted to pot and can’t wait to smoke it at all hours? I’m sorry, “just move” is not a realistic solution.

      • joe

        How about you stop being a bitch! I have asthma and have almost every environmental allergy you can name and I still live a breathe everyday without whining every time someone smokes or has a pet near me. Everybody has to stop trying to control other people. If you don;t like something move, unfortunately for you it is not everyone elses responsibility to ensure you are comfortable, it your own!!!

        • Steve

          How about you, “joe” stop being an asshole and likely a lying asshole as well? See, it’s not nice to call people names and hide behind the internet.
          So, just how much knowledge about what real allergy, or asthma do you have? As in, how many times you had to be hospitalized with severe reactions, or had cases where you were suffocating without medication?

          Many people have allergies and exposed to elements, but don’t even try to start saying that you can comfortably live in a place, where you neighbors are constantly smoking and smoke is penetrating your apartment. How about raising children in such environment?

          Non-smokers have the right not to smoke and not to be exposed to smoke. If landlord is unable to satisfy this requirement then people with shared air ventilation system should not be smoking. If they do, they must leave. Your rights END where my rights begin.

          • Rachelle

            There is no right to “not be exposed to smoke” nor do landlords have the right to evict tenants who smoke regardless of if they have a non smoking clause in their lease. If the law changes, it changes but that is the way it goes.

    • Dd

      If” you have considerate neighbors, {if you dont get them a box of sees candy on christmas or the next available holiday} they will probably think of you, when it comes to smoke….
      Most people dont want a war, Why start one. Figure out a solution, you might be surprised, to find that a lot of smokers, dont want the smell lingering either. I just got off the phone, with my mother in law, the neighbor smokes pot & its intruding. She may have started a war, by telling him HE CANT” & yes he can. & Does!. I suggested she go over nicely, agree that its his Right” But it comes inside the house & it makes her ugggg. Others have rights to cook a batch of rotten sardines, with a cup full of curry, over a broccoli mash, & you may not like it, but this is the way it is. Their is a solution, but i would HIGHELY Suggest, you Not Call the Neighbor & start telling him or her what they cant do.
      Instead, agree with their rights, & see if you can gently ask them? if they can smoke elsewhere as its coming into your home. p.s. Remember the sees candy.

  • Jessica

    Smoking is a documented and recognized health hazard, particularly over extended periods. The fact is, the smoke travels through vents, or even walls, and can expose those in neighbouring units to unwanted toxic fumes. The rules around it should more closely approximate the rules around releasing poison gases, not, as the author suggest “curry” or “other unwanted smells”. It’s a health issue, not a preference. The law unduly protects tenants against legitimate claims.

    • Rachelle

      Jessica,

      Lets get real here, smoke is not like a demon from the underworld, it doesn’t go through walls, nor it it a poison gas. In any case it’s still legal to smoke in Canada regardless of the health effects and the landlord cannot do anything about it. Sue the other tenant directly. It’s not the landlord’s fault, he’s not smoking the cigarettes, and he didn’t create the laws that protect the rights of the other tenant to smoke in their house even if they sign a non smoking lease. NOT. OUR. FAULT.

      • Erika

        Rachelle,
        Lets get real here. Cigarette smoke is indeed a ‘poison gas’. A quick Google search led me to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention webpage.
        “Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic. About 70 can cause cancer.

        Here are some of the chemicals:

        Cancer-Causing Chemicals
        Formaldehyde: Used to embalm dead bodies
        Benzene: Found in gasoline
        Polonium 210: Radioactive and very toxic
        Vinyl chloride: Used to make pipes

        Toxic Metals
        Chromium: Used to make steel
        Arsenic: Used in pesticides
        Lead: Once used in paint
        Cadmium: Used to make batteries

        Poison Gases
        Carbon monoxide: Found in car exhausts
        Hydrogen cyanide: Used in chemical weapons
        Ammonia: Used in household cleaners
        Butane: Used in lighter fluid
        Toluene: Found in paint thinners

        Source: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2010/consumer_booklet/chemicals_smoke/index.htm

        NOT. YOUR. FAULT. BUT. STILL. YOUR. PROBLEM. AS. A. LANDLORD

        • Rachelle

          You don’t understand. THE.LAW.OF.ONTARIO.WILL.NOT.ALLOW.ME.TO. It is not illegal to smoke in your own home and even when no smoking clauses are signed by the tenant the Landlord & Tenant Board will not evict.

          Also, while cigarette smoke does have low levels of carcinogenic chemicals, so do many other substances. Calling it a poisonous gas is alarmist. Phosgene is a poison gas http://en.wikipedia.org. /wiki/Phosgene

          • Ash

            Seems pretty poisonous to me. I am having the same issues. Asthma in a multi level old 70’s style building. Vent fans do not work and they refuse to fix them since it is “too expensive”. Never had issues before but now all I can smell is pot and cigarettes. I have felt so sick and have a hard time breathing. Every morning I wake up not being able to breathe. Even with my windows open it doesn’t help. My sensitivity to the smell of cigarettes is so bad that if someone sits beside me on the bus smelling of it I have to pretty much get up and try to walk away and use my inhaler.

          • Al

            I agree calling it a poison gas is a bit much. However, flatulence is likewise not a poison gas yet people don’t like the smell. And the point here is whether it’s tobacco smoke or pot smoke, it still stinks and negatively impacts a person’s ability to enjoy their home. If you’re addicted to pot or tobacco there are non-stinky products out there such as e-cigs and vaporizers that you can use instead, and they have the added benefit of (for now) even being legal to use in public so if your pot or tobacco addiction is such that t you can’t live without you can do that too.

          • Knowledge is Key

            UNDER THE PROVINCIAL/TERRIORIAL TENANCY LAWS, PEOPLE ARE ENTITLED TO “QUIET ENJOYMENT” OF THEIR HOME, WHICH INCLUDES THE RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM UNREASONABLE DISTURBANCES BY OTHER TENANTS OR THEIR GUESTS, SECOND-HAND SMOKE INFILTRATING YOUR HOME CONSTITUTES AS UNREASONABLE DISTURBANCE! It has been proven tenants have won under this law!

            Just because a person pays rent doesn’t mean they have the right to smoke in the unit doesn’t matter if it hasa clause in the lease or not. Especially when its drugs.

            Secondly even if a person has a medical premission to smoke grow or etc their marijuana they would lose that battle if it went to court because once again it violates the right to “Quiet Enjoyment”

            Whomever wrote this obviously didn’t know the facts or do correct research before producing this article.

            TENANTS HAVE A RIGHT TO BREATHE CLEAN AIR AND CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO BE RAISED IN A SMOKE-FREE ENVIROMENT.

          • Rachelle

            Existing tenants also have the right to smoke. Bugging them not to smoke when they have that right is something called harassment.

          • FYI

            In it considered unreasonable disturance a violation of your right as a tenant to “quiet or reasonable enjoyment” which includes the right to be free from unreasonable disturbances by other tenants or their guests under the provincial/terriorial laws.

            Smoking that invades your apartment/ home/ unit where you reside constitutes as unreasonable disturbance!

          • Rachelle

            As a homeowner, if my neighbor is smoking and it drifts over to my house, there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Why as a tenant do you think that you would have “this right”? No one else does. I understand you would like to but it’s just not the law or the facts.

    • addy step

      Having a bbq creates just as much toxins even more concentrated then standing next to someone who wants to have a cigarette. A cigarette takes like 5 min to smoke, where as a bbq can last for a few hours or longer for slow cookers. If you have ever enjoyed a bbq and then expect people to stop smoking then your being a hypocrite. Toxins are in the air all around us however making this a witch hunt on people who smoke is outrageous. People who dont smoke have the option to live in smoke free environments since there are several buildings to accommodate them but there are no buildings for smokers. Non smokers get a lot of special treatment and still want to have the right to tell smokers what to do with their own life. Grow up people.

  • Terri

    Ok, I get the smoking/non smoking issue. We smoke but not in the apartment because we don’t want the smell in the house.
    Our neighbours cook DAILY with curry. Our landlord has installed a fume hood, which they randomly use. But the cooking smells permeate our furnishings and cause allergic reactions for my husband (anaphylaxis type).
    We have left our windows open, used air fresheners, and bleached the cupboards TWICE this last month.
    What can we legally do?

    Don’t say move—we have been here 5 years, they’ve been here 6 months. And yes, they are aware of the problem. The landlord spoke to them prior to installing the fume hood (he installed it on Easter Sunday while they were away). He’s an EXCELLENT landlord but we are all concerned with unfounded, unreasonable racial claims.

    SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!!!

    • Rachelle

      You have to move. It’s obviously a health issue. The Landlord & Tenant Board will not evict the apartment next door for curry smell. Use your energies wisely.

      • Al

        So who is going to subsidize the thousands of dollars it will likely cost Terri to move?

        • Rachelle

          Dear Al,

          Terri will because Terri is an adult and responsible for her life, her housing and her choices.

          • Michael Stewart

            does this mean I am not allowed to make hydrofluoric acid or Uranium hexafluoride in my apartment? Wish I knew that before my complex started glowing at night.

          • Rachelle

            You probably shouldn’t collect the radioactive material from smoke detectors either :)

  • Terri

    Thank you for your response. I don’t like the answer and think it to be an unfair portion on the law, but that’s the way it is.
    Who would we consult about costs? It’s not cheap to move and after being excellent tenants for five years, we will have the additional costs of replacing stinky furniture and ensuring the carpets are cleaned. We would never dream of leaving the place unclean.
    Is there no clause for unduly disturbing the reasonable enjoyment of other tenants? I was told that if an animal causes allergic reactions like that then either the cat goes or the tenant can be evicted.
    I’m not trying to be oppositional, we just love our place and what’s the odds of having a fantastic landlord like we do now?

    • Rachelle

      I don’t think there is anyone to consult about the costs. You are caught in a legal conundrum, the neighbor has the right to cook whatever food they like regardless of your allergy. It’s like someone who’s allergic to bees, the landlord is not required to keep the yard bee free and if a neighbor was a bee keeper the landlord wouldn’t have any control over it or be responsible for that situation. Therefore no compensation. This is just part of life. cooking stinky food is not a reason for eviction. Very very few people are evicted because of the foul smells they make.

      As for the cat situation that would only happen if the owner said they were allergic in the ad, and had plenty of Dr proof to back it up and lived in the property. If there were other tenants it just wouldn’t cut the mustard, no pet clauses in leases are void.

  • Terri

    Thank you. Again, I wish the law were different but it is what it is.
    I can only hope we either get posted or they move because another rental in this area will increase our monthly costs by about $400 (we really lucked out with this place) and we will lose the fenced yard and privacy. Or, the excessive smell that late at night will draw in the black bears even more and nature will take its course. Thankfully, we are not the ones causing it and the bears will have an easier time ripping their windows open. There are well published warnings by the town and MNR about deterring them so there is adequate notice.
    Again, thank you for your response! I’m happy to have found a clear cut site to get answers.

  • Ian Jakes

    Here’s my situation.

    When I first moved into my apartment, I used to smoke on the balcony, until one evening a women above me yelled at me to “STOP SMOKING”! Then she slammed her balcony door.

    I felt bad and that was the last time I ever smoked on the balcony, relegating myself to leaving the building whenever I got the urge to light up.

    Now that I’ve quit for 6 months, I know exactly what she was complaining about. Every few hours there is smoke wafting into my apartment through by balcony screen and I find it really annoying. Smoke always seems to find its way into any available entrance.

    It’s not an option closing my window or door, because the building does tend to get quite hot due to not having individual unit thermostats. How would you like to wake up at 2:00 am to the smell of smoke? Yes, that’s how sensitive I’ve become to it.

    From the fresh perspective of a non-smoker, I really hope smoking is banned from apartment buildings / condos some day. Let’s hope sooner, rather than later.

    • Rachelle

      Communal living is not for everyone that’s for sure.

    • Dave

      I never smoked and I’d be hard pressed to believe that someone smoking in the outside air is a heath hazard unless they were right in front of you blowing it in your face. This new power some people think they have to dictate to others how to live and greatly exaggerate the effects of some cigarette smoke in the open air being dispersed and there by quite weak in concentration. You may not like the smell but it’s harmless when you compare that to automobile exhaust and planes flying overhead that are heavy polluters. Of course there is nothing you can do about cars or planes so you concentrate on bitching about someone having a smoke on their balcony. Meanwhile you jump in your car and spew poisen all over the place. My point is that we all contribute to bad air and although one may not like some one smoking near them it’s really a non issue when it’s in the outdoors. I’m in a condo and if you know anything about the basics of a structure with open windows on one side and no back draft unless there is a strong wind cigarette smoke is not going to come in the unit and even if it does its dispursed to the point of being harmless. The woman above you was ignorant behaving like that and granted smoking is a heath hazard for the smoker but in an outdoor environment with all the other sourses of pollution it does not even register.

  • Mark

    There have been at least 5 rulings in the past 3 years by the Landlord Tenant Board where the adjudicator sided with the landlord in enforcing an eviction notice due to the tenant violating a non-smoking agreement. They all stated that smoking impinged upon the other tenant’s right to enjoyment of the property. Even in 2007, in Toronto, the board ruled in favour of the landlord who proved that cigarette smoke damaged the furniture in an apartment and the offending tenant was evicted.
    Just google “Landlord applications – case law related to smoke-free housing” for the link that takes you to the actual rulings.

    • Rachelle

      It was not the Landlord & Tenant Board who ruled in favour of the landlord, it was Small Claims and for damages not eviction, and it was a short term rental. There were only three ruling in the list I googled up where the landlord won and about 3 times that many that the landlord lost or the case was dismissed. ALL THE CASES THAT WON INCLUDED NON PAYMENT OF RENT!!! The smoking was incidental to the eviction. In the cases the won there was medical evidence of injury to the landlord and a Dr letter and a NON smoking clause in the lease.

      I’m not impressed with your three cases and in one of the cases in your list, the adjudicator states the the Board does not grant eviction for smoking unless there are serious allergies and medical testimony and proof of a non smoking agreement.

      • Mark

        Please click on this link:http://www.smokefreehousingon.ca/sfho/tenants-case-law-landlord-apps.html
        and read these cases: NOL-07219-12, EAL-03261-09, NOL-00930-10 and NOL-01030-10.
        All three of these cases were ruled on by the Landlord Tenant Board, not small claims. All three only concerned smoking. All three were ruled in the landlord’s favour. You state categorically, in your statements above, that the Board is never going to evict someone for smoking. That is simply not true. Yes, certain conditions must be met – no smoking policy, etc. – but they will rule to evict.

  • Katie

    People may have a right to smoke in their own homes but if they smoke near entranceways, into other tenants’ windows, etc., it can be pursued and the fines aren’t small. My landlord has spoken to a tenant next to us because his girlfriend visits and smokes outside about 6 feet away from our window, and has mentioned that if she doesn’t stop, he will evict him. He said he won’t risk the fines that he could be faced with because of this. The fact is, entranceways in any business are to be smoke free. A rental complex is a business and therefore applies 100%. Not to mention basic human rights to not have to suffer because of someone else’s filthy habit. If allergies or asthma in particular are an issue and there’s a lease agreement involved, do you think the suffering tenant should cough up the $ for the remaining months of rent despite the building being smoke-free? I think not. And the only reason this sort of thing keeps happening is because people don’t pursue it. But rest assured that will change.

    • Rachelle

      So your landlord has threatened another tenant who smokes to close to your window with eviction? That should get him a nasty harassment suit. If a fire engine goes by on the street and makes a loud sound do you think the tenants should pay rent? Is it the landlord smoking? No ? Then why the hell should he suffer?

      The only reason this keeps happening is because landlords keep losing in 99% of cases at the landlord & tenant board for smoking. The Adjudicators are not going to start evicting people for smoking anytime soon.

      • rachelle is a bitch

        Rachelle face it your habbit is fucking disgusting! When you are old filled with black shit in your lungs and have disgusting yellow teeth don’t cry wolf sweetheart! You sit there acting high and mighty but the truth is smoking is a filthy habbit and smokers don’t see it because they’re the ones who choose to kill themselves. Why should I have to poison my body because your a loser who chooses to poison your body?

        One other thing you should realize is if a law or a technicality is argued properly one could get an entire crowd of smokers evicted with the snap of a finger! All one has to argue is what would a reasonable do? Trust me, a reasonable person will not sit by while some ignoramus pollutes their home, their furniture, their expensive posessions with a dirty and toxic habbit. Slowly smokers are being outlawed and trust me its only a matter of time before entire cities become smoke free and I can’t wait :D

        • Rachelle

          I don’t smoke anymore, I quit over a year ago now. I also pretty aware of what goes on at the Landlord & Tenant Board. Don’t shoot the messenger. Do you imagine that all the scores of landlords haven’t thought of arguing their case?

        • co bo

          THANK ALL OF YOU WHO ARE FIGHTING , FOR ALL OF THOSE WHO CANNOT FIGHT ANYLONGER FOR THEMSELVES..I agree , Please people who are able to do something about this smoke coming into my apartment . I live on 6th floor , need fresh air . I am disable, I have no family . I try to keep my health in good condition . I have had no high blood pressure was not diabetic and other than some allergies until I moved into this senior apartment 7 yrs ago . I cannot sit on my porch or exercise on my little trampoline because both neighbors smoking on their balconies.. I have awakened 3am to find that I have been breathing smoke .cannot open my windows. open my windows,and in the last seven years I have watch my blood pressure rise, developed daily throat irritation w/ drainage along with blood sugar problems . Dr. said that second hand smoke increase risk for all these things.
          on top of all that I am now so angry on the inside because I feel so helpless. I feel worn out from running. .Had same thing happen at last apartment. Asked neighbors if we can do something different and they seem to laugh at me. Please . people who are able ,! FIGHT ! FIGHT ! FIGHT! FIGHT ! for those who cannot fight for themselves . Please do not allow this evil life destroying habit to destroy other innocent people .THANK YOU. PLEASE GOD HELP THE VICTIMS WHO ARE TRAPPED IN THIS FOWL PRACTICE. GIVE THEM A BETTER WAY TO EASE THEIR FEAR AN ANXIETY THAN MURDER AND SUICIDE.
          HELP THEM MAKE A CHANGE IF NOT FOR THEM SELVES AT LEAST HELP THEM CARE FOR OTHER PEOPLE .THANK YOU JESUS . AMEN ,

          • Rachelle

            Ok you’re a senior and you developed high blood pressure. Have you considered that it’s not the odd whiff of secondhand smoke coming from next door that is causing your problem? It might just be age.

  • Charlotte

    What kind of recourse does one have if the tenants below you are smoking marijuana outside but by your bedroom window?

    My landlord refuses to tell them to even smoke at the back of the yard. Every night I wake up to the smell of skunky weed and loud hacking coughing. They might as well be in bed with me. Short of moving, what can I do?

    • Rachelle

      I suggest a spray bottle like the one I use on the tom cats in the area. Put water in it. Other than that if you go out and demand a toke every time you smell their joint, they’ll probably make sure they don’t disturb you in the future :)

  • Curious

    Are you able to help landlords evict tenants that are pot smokers? How long would that take and what are your rates?

  • Trishia

    I am an apartment tenant in the same building for 28 years.
    In the last 2 years I have been plagued with smokers above, below and beside me.
    6 people in 3 homes all smoking at least 10 times every evening 7 days a week each. All of this smoke comes into my home.
    For me, this is the second had smoke from 420 cigarettes per week !

    A tenant is legalle entitled to ‘resonable’ enjoyment of their home.
    Fine.
    So do I also have the right to reasonable enjoyment.
    Let them smoke inside their home.
    But when they all go out on their balconies and introduce harmful substances into my home via the common airway, this is a serious problem,
    and the dangers of cigarette smoke and second-hand cigarette smoke are well documented and known.

    In Ontario, Canada,
    a tenant can file a T2 complaint against the Landlord for failing to protect the tenants rights to reasonable enjoyment and seek monetary compensation through the review board.
    If a Landlord tries to bully a tenant for complaining, a T6 form can be filled out against the Landlord.

    It is vitally important to be patient through an ordeal and calmly keep a log of dates, and durations of incidents. This case file can be presented to the Review board as evidence.

    They have the power to resolve the problem and see to it that the Landlord compensate, monetarily, a portion or all of the rent back to the tenant who is victimized.

    If you are a tenant suffering from smokers,
    you must keep a log, and notify in writing, your landlord. Keep copies of all communications.
    Request that the Landlord respond in writing and sign the response letter(s).
    This will also act as evidence at a review board hearing.

    Should the Landlord fail to comply with their legal responsibilities, you then go to the review board with your case by filling out the appropriate form(s).

    hope this helps someone somewhere.
    http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/STEL02_111281.html

    • Rachelle

      You do realize that the smoker tenant can also file against the landlord for harassement. They are allowed to smoke. I’m a non smoker but your rights end where another person’s rights begin. Suing your landlord to pay you because another tenant is smoking according to their rights is the height of unfairness and ridiculousness. As I have mentioned various times, despite the strident protestations, no one is showing me evictions that have been awarded based on tenants smoking.

  • Ray

    Terrible article that doesn’t fully explore all the options and does a dangerous job of making it seem that the only recourse is to move out.

    • Rachelle

      Sorry you feel that way, maybe you could do some searching on Canlii and find cases that were successful in evicting the tenant for smoking. That would be helpful, if you supported your position, instead of making things up.

  • John Galt

    Enlighten us…where is the right to smoke enshrined in law? The fact is that you have no more a right to smoke in your own home than you do to blast music.

    You do not have the right to do anything in your apartment which prevents my quiet enjoyment of my apartment.

    • Rachelle

      Actually if you are a tenant you are subject to loud noise bylaws, but those bylaws do generally allow the playing of loud music between 8 to 11. In fact your right of quiet enjoyment is in balance with the right of the other tenants to blare loud music they enjoy. Smoking in one’s own home is quite legal. Smoking is legal. Again I urge people to look up actual judgements on Canlii.

      • John Galt

        There are others, but here you go:

        http://canlii.ca/t/2f8fv . Determination 5 is especially pertinent: “I find that being exposed to second-hand smoke on an ongoing basis, and especially the exposure of the young child, undoubtedly constitute substantial interference with the Tenants’ enjoyment of the rental unit/complex.”

        So please tell me where the right to smoke is enshrined. I have read every word of the CCRF and the HRC but there is nothing there for me to conclude that a person has the *right* to behave in a manner injurious to others. It simply doesn’t exist.

  • Rachelle

    1. Starting immediately, upon receiving a complaint from the Tenants about second-hand smoke coming from the neighbouring unit, the Landlords shall take timely, effective steps, including but not limited to issuing a notice of termination to the offending tenants, to prevent the neighbouring tenants from exposing the Tenants to second-hand smoke, thereby substantially interfering with the Tenants’ enjoyment of the unit/complex.

    2. If the Landlords fail to comply with the above terms, the Tenants are authorized to deduct 25% from the monthly rent until the Landlords meet the conditions set out in paragraph 1 above.

    Right but the very same Landlord & Tenant Board will not evict the people who are smoking. The landlord will just have to eat the 25% loss of rent.

    This landlord is screwed.

    Let me tell you a story, in 2011, I had one tenant get charged with attempted murder for trying to stab another…it took me 9 long months to evict a person that was charged by the police for trying to stab another person with witnesses. I was barely able to get the eviction. The Landlord & Tenant Board is not evicting tenants for smoking. This judgement is a perfect example of how the Landlord & Tenant Board doesn’t treat landlords fairly.

  • John Galt

    The tenant who has to live in an apartment which stinks and harms the health of their child is the one who is screwed. The landlord has to make a good faith effort to resolve the issue. Have an HVAC person check to see if the vents are working properly. Ask the tenant to smoke outside. Seal up vents between the units.

  • Rachelle

    That’s just it, this recent study for example shows no harm from secondhand smoke. If there is a smoker of whatever in the house, it will smell. However the Landlord & Tenant Board will not evict based on smoking even if there is a no smoking clause in the lease.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/12/12/study-finds-no-link-between-secondhand-smoke-and-cancer/

  • John Galt

    Even assuming that study is valid, you are making up a conclusion not supported anywhere. Even if secondhand smoke does not cause cancer, it does not mean it does not ’cause harm’. Asthma, bronchitis, inflammation, increased susceptibility to ear infections, etc. are all well documented in the medical literature.

    Rachelle, my point – which you’ve chosen to ignore – is that the landlord must act on behalf of the aggrieved tenant. If the eviction of the offending tenant isn’t successful, that’s on the Board. There are myriad other things landlords can do: ensure their ventilation systems are functioning properly, determine whether prospective tenants smoke, designating outdoor spaces are smoking areas, etc.

    They can’t just sit back and say, “well, its the tenant’s right to smoke so deal with it or move”.

  • Rachelle

    The point is that without a clear course of action including legislative support at the Landlord & Tenant Board, there is nothing for the landlord to do. Even with a non smoking clause in the lease, the landlord cannot evict evict a tenant who smokes in their unit. I have seen this myself personally even when the tenant agreed and signed a mediated agreement, even when the landlord had medical documentation that she was allergic, the landlord had to pay the tenant to leave. This was even in a home that that was a small under three unit property. This landlord had to pay over $3000 in legal fees and lost.

    I’m sorry you don’t like it, the judgement you showed me is the height of irony. Not only can you not do anything on your tenant’s behalf even with a non smoking clause, but now they’ll reduce the complaining tenant’s rent by 25%. It just makes me angry.

  • paul

    The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in workplaces, enclosed public spaces and also in motor vehicles when children under 16 are present. It also bans the public display of tobacco products prior to purchase and prohibits youth-targeted tobacco products such as flavoured cigarillos.

    These efforts have greatly reduced tobacco use and lowered health risks to non-smokers in Ontario.

    The Smoke-Free Ontario Act is designed to protect the health of all Ontarians by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places in Ontario as of May 31, 2006

  • John Galt

    Rachelle,

    You’re angry that the L&TB reduced a landlord’s rent for failing to take any action on an issue which severely impacted the tenant’s quality of life? Nobody said the landlord had to be successful: the landlord merely had to make a good faith attempt at resolving the issue.

    There are plenty of other cases where the tenant did not win a rent reduction or other award because the landlord took some sort of corrective action.

    The moral of the story ought to be that landlords can’t just simply collect rent. They actually have to provide services beyond merely allowing someone else to live in the rental property. When there’s conflict between tenants for legitimate issues, they have to act to resolve the issue.

  • Laura

    I rent an apartment in my home. My recent tenants were mostly non-smokers. One of the couple did smoke but she was using those water based steam cigarettes as her husband did not like cigarettes. So this was great, as a person living in the home and suffering asthma those water based smokes did not cause any harm. However, they moved out this year, bought their own first home.

    New tenants moved in last month. He is a heavy pot smoker. He mostly smokes outside and said he would never smoke inside. I do smell it inside on occasion though so I suspect he chooses to smoke inside when it is cold out, etc. Anyway, I accepted the pot smoking, not sure about it but let it go because he seemed to be considerate about it.

    I came to this site because I want to know what the laws are, what are my risks legally, due to the pot being on the premises? It is still not legal as far as I know and I do have neighbours who live close enough to smell it and report it. There was a small issue (about a truck parked in the driveway) in the past which someone called the city about and I had to deal with the situation. So it is likely someone will report the pot smell from my house. I have never had trouble with police and would happily keep it that way.

    • Rachelle

      As far as I know it is legal to smoke pot. If you called the city of Toronto, they’d probably tell you that if you don’t like the smell of pot just don’t go near Rob Ford’s office

  • Lana

    I have the same issue: since last two months pot fumes are constantly coming in to my apartment. I have permanent disability (muscular dystrophy) which effects on my breathing system, and every other night I am having an issue triggered by the pot fumes. I live in a apartment building that has a few units for wheelchair users, and I live in one of them. My subsidized rental unit is wheelchair accessible, therefore I can’t just move somewhere because someone smokes pot now. Is there anything that my co-op can do? Thanks.

    • Rachelle

      Apartments are not airtight, I’m not sure what can be done. The best best would be to have someone talk to the guy and ask if he could be kind enough to smoke outside.

      • John Galt

        Rachelle, apartments aren’t soundproof nor bulletproof, but we expect landlords to enforce restriction regarding those. The issue here is the same. The “someone” to “talk to the guy” is the landlord.

        Tenants pay for the right to quiet enjoyment of a property. That is an actual right enshrined in law. There is no right to smoke.

      • Sarah

        Rachelle,
        Off topic but I just wanted to say well done and I am in awe of your patience :) I’ve read the whole thread and it seems you are being unfairly vilified and verbally abused for not joining in with an angry mob by lying and denying facts you know to be true. I am a non smoker, but I am also a reasonable person and understand that laws don’t change just because I throw an online temper tantrum/have severe control issues. I don’t know what is wrong with these people, but good job dealing with them and I think it’s sad that you had to in the first place.

  • SP

    I have basement tenants who are pretty good. I stipulated “no-smoking” and they are non-smokers, so no problems there.
    The issue is I have a sensitivity to certain smells and chemicals. I do everything I can to stay away from offending smells, and I don’t use them in my house. If I see a smoker outside, I will walk a huge radius around him/her – as far as I have to. The sinus reaction is terrible – my nasal passages inflames and dry up, as does my throat, and I get a massive headache. It will last for days. If in the meantime, I get hit with another smell, it will last for weeks.
    I don’t get to experience “nice” smells, like grass and flowers except maybe a few times a year, for a second, then it is gone.
    My tenants cook with some unusual spice – which kills my nose — the rest of their cooking is fine, it’s just that one spice. They also burn a big vanilla-scented candle which is cloying and terrible. Last night she burned the candle from 5pm and my furnace blew it up throughout the house. I turned my furnace down, but not off (not going to freeze them out), and I awoke at 230 to that smell in my bedroom.
    I have sealed off vents on my mainfloor and in my bedroom – and have a heater and an air purifier in my room just because of these smells.
    In the winter my windows were frozen shut (-30) and I was going crazy.
    This morning, I have had it. It’s 7 am and I still have a bad headache and my nose feels like I was buried in sand for days. The tenants have been here since Nov and it is now April and I never said anything because my sister said it is a risky topic but she does not have allergies. (And I do – not in my head – I have had nasal surgery.)
    I’m going to tell my tenants that I will be attempting to install a better extrusion fan for the cooking, and to kindly refrain from utilizing scented candles because of my allergic response (which I have taken steps to try and control). If these steps do not work, I will ask them to look for another apartment. Sorry to sound harsh, but I live in this house, and I have tried to be accommodating, but when you can’t even sleep in your own bedroom anymore without waking up from these smells, no, I have a right to enjoy my own home. (Not to mention the toxicity of the candle, and whatever cleaning I will need to do to rent the apt again.)

  • JL

    Hi Rachelle,

    I moved into a multi unit dwelling in Toronto about a month ago. The lease has no mention of smoking in it at all, I was never asked if I was a smoker, nor was it ever discussed with me by the landlord prior to moving in.

    Since I have lived here, I have smoked occasionally indoors, and outdoors as well. I would say it has been about even. I always leave all my windows open, spray air freshener, and mostly limit my smoking to a small sunroom I have that is an addition to the house, and has a door separating it from the actual apartment. The few times I have smoked within my living room, I have received a complaint. My living room is directly beside the properties entrance so clearly this complaining tenant was smelling it within the hallway for a second when she entered the property.

    The first complaint I received, I did not bring up legalities, and kept it as calm and friendly as possible as I really don’t want to start a war here. I advised my landlords that I would smoke within the sunroom only, they didn’t love the idea, but they didn’t tell me no.

    Since then, she has complained four more times. Stating now she has asthma, and is waking up weezing, and knows my smoke is the culprit. I find it odd, the asthma claim as she has cats, and this property also has dogs within it. She also bikes daily…

    My landlords are now very aggressive. They have sent me emails making threats of suing me, stating what I am doing is illegal, telling me they are evicting me. They have not even talked to me, and tried to come up with a mutually agreed upon compromise.

    I really find it hard to believe smoke is infiltrating her unit. We have no shared vents, my windows are constantly open, and I am not even a heavy smoker.

    I sent my landlord my rights per the Ontario smoke free act, that I could do as I please within my individual unit. I mentioned my Human Rights, and also the tenancy act. I advised they did not even do any investigation to prove smoke was indeed infiltrating her unit. That they did nothing to attempt to rectify the situation to ensure both her and I are satisfied with the outcome, that there are also other smokers within the property, and so to point the finger at me without evidence of anything was unfair. I then advised them if they wanted to attempt to move forward with an eviction, to go for it, but to not threaten or send me angry emails any further.

    I am pretty upset, and wasn’t going to even reply to them. I was just going to comply with their bullying ways, but I just couldn’t. I feel I am being treated unfairly, and made out to be a bad tenant, which I am far from. I am a quiet, single professional, clean, and have always paid my rent on time. Which is fairly substantial, which upsets me even more that I am now paying nearly 2000 a month to be treated like a criminal, threatened, and basically told to start packing. In the meantime, I have completely stopped all smoking indoors, and advised my landlord I was willing to do this in the summer months, but that in the winter, I would not promise that I would not have the occasional cigarette within the sunroom.

    If they do proceed with an eviction process, how long would it take for this to all happen. Is there any chance I could be forced to move out here Based on her asthma claims? I really don’t want to give up this place, although I am pretty upset that already this quickly after moving in, my landlord is treating me so poorly.

    – Thank you

    signed smoker being bullied

  • JL

    I should also mention, this is a five unit dwelling for which I have the main floor.

    Looking forward to hearing your advice! Thank you.

  • JohnGalt

    There is no “right to smoke” anymore than there is a “right to play drums at 2am”.

    Each tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of their unit. That is a right that is actually enshrined in legislation.

    • Rachelle

      You’re making the unwarranted conclusion that legal smoking by one tenant in his apartment is interfering with quiet enjoyment of another tenant in their apartment.

      That has to be proven according to Landlord & Tenant’s Board satisfaction and you, despite all your blustering have not yet showed me even one case where a tenant was evicted for smoking according to a non smoking clause in a lease.

      Do you think landlords like smokers? I can assure you they do not. It’s a lot harder to turn over a unit when a heavy smoker has lived in there.

  • Eva Brazel

    I disagree with the focus on smell…. cigarettes don’t just stink, they contain more than 3000 toxins— and are a known carcinogen!! This is not just about the smoker’s right to smoke and the non-smoker’s right to quiet enjoyment of their property — it is about deliberately exposing others to known highly toxic substances. If condos are not built to protect people then whomever is living in them should be protected by the laws of the land– it sounds like Ontario is way behind…. here in B.C. we have lots of clean air buildings and people are buying into them faster than into any other buildings. Cigarette smoke causes irreversible, irreparable damage to lungs and to property and reselling a suite that has had smokers in it, in my part of the city has proven to be almost impossible. I screen my tenants very carefully to make sure that they are nonsmokers and that they agree not to allow others to smoke in my suite. We have had a smoker in our building but with lots of support from the neighbours who were equally troubled we eventually got rid of him. His disgusting side stream smoke got into several other suites via electrical outlets, dryer vents and numerous other routes. Like many smokers he was rude and self centred. One of my tenants had children sleeping in the bedroom and there are windows only on one side of the suite — facing north, where the balconies are also located. He smoked outside and it vented directly up and into the bedroom….. in our province if a parent smokes and exposes their children to side stream smoke in this fashion they can find themselves facing child abuse charges. I think that smoking belongs in the same category as knowingly and purposely exposing other to dangerous toxic chemicals…. because that is exactly what it is. Smokers can go outside and smoke down the street (as long as they are not with the city’s declared setback from windows, vents etc. which is something like 6 meters). Non-smokers cannot escape the ordeal of someone else smoking without notice…. and doing so often in the middle of the evening or night. This is entrapment… in one’s own home. Piggy people smoke and require others to be entrapped in their own home… and I include pot smokers…. the smell of some pot is much, much worse than the smell of cigarettes but may do less harm… even so, just ponder the thought of how inconsiderate and self-centred it is to knowingly make someone else that uncomfortable in their own home…. this is not just about laws, it is about ethics and quite simply, it is about what is right and what is wrong.

  • Eva Brazel

    Also, I want to ad that it is not just about the quiet enjoyment of one’s own home. It is about the ‘use and enjoyment’ of one’s own home and balcony, in the instance of a condo that is above another condo where someone smokes with windows on only one side. If someone smokes, and the smoke reaches my condo, I CANNOT stay in my condo, I MUST leave, or I will get violently ill. This means the deliberate behaviours of another person have caused a diminished use of my property. I also CANNOT RENT TO OTHERS KNOWING THAT THERE IS GOING TO BE A SMOKER BELOW THEM… AS THEN I SHARE IN THE RESONSIBILITY. THIS MEANS I LOSE RENTAL INCOME AND WILL EVENTUALLY LOSE MY PROPERTY AS I CERTAINLY CANNOT PAY THE MORTGAGE, MAINTENANCE FEES, LAND TAXES, INSURANCE AND UPKEEP ON MY SUITE IF I HAVE NO RENTAL INCOME. EVEN with the rental income, I pay for a LOT of those expenses out of my own pocket, so the very last thing I need it a smoker diminishing the value of the suite with stale smoke that lingers even after painting. THERE needs to be nation wide laws against indoor smoking …. plain and simple. This is the only fair thing, and it is the only safe position. What happened to “do no harm” — smoking is being deliberately malificent… !!!

    • Rachelle

      I understand your point but so far no smoking cannot be enforced by the landlord here in Ontario. So it makes no difference if Smoke is pure instant cancer if I as the landlord have no tools to deal with the issue and evict a tenant for smoking tobacco and pot then what am I supposed to do? This is even with a no smoking clause in my lease. So clearly the law disagrees with your view point and while I respect that not smoking is “moral and ethical” it just doesn’t matter because the LAW is what it is.

      A tenant with a medical marijuana license can start a grow op in my house and they do not have to even notify the landlord.

      I’m not here to argue you with you, I’d love to see some clear guidance on the issue.

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