When it comes to secondhand smoke at home, apartment renters often run into similar problems. Here you’ll find the answers to some of those common questions and what to do about them.
Q: What can I do about secondhand smoke?
A: If secondhand smoke is drifting into your apartment, your health may be at risk. The best way to avoid the health hazards of secondhand smoke is to not be around it. You may consider taking steps outlined in the following Q&A.
Q: How do I convince my property manager to adopt a smoke-free policy?
A: Talk to your property manager regarding issues that are important to them and follow these steps:
- Document the problem
- Get testimonials from residents affected by secondhand smoke
- Build consensus among the residents and get their support by collecting signatures
- Recommend a smoke-free policy as a solution
- Tell your property manager and/or owner about the many economic benefits of going smoke-free
Q: Can secondhand smoke drift from one apartment unit to another?
A: Many people are unaware that the secondhand smoke can enter their apartments from other units. Smoke from one unit travels to neighboring units and common areas under doors, through cracks in the walls and floors, around light fixtures, plumbing and electrical outlets and through heating and ventilation ducts. Once inside the unit, secondhand smoke lingers in the air for hours.1 2
Q: I have health problems. Can I request to be moved to a unit away from secondhand smoke?
A: In most types of housing, the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, which is defined as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities; having a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.
If you have a disability that is affected by secondhand smoke, and secondhand smoke is preventing you from having equal access to your housing, you might be able to request a reasonable accommodation, such as smoking restrictions for your building, being moved to a smoking-restricted building, a separate ventilation system or sealing off your apartment.
For more information, contact the Southwest Fair Housing Council at 602-252-3423 (Phoenix office) or (520) 798-1568 (Tucson office) for assistance.
Q: Can my property manager evict me if I complain about secondhand smoke?
A: If you are being evicted from your apartment in retaliation for making a complaint, you have rights and your property manager must follow proper legal procedures for evicting you from your apartment.3
- Make sure that you keep a written record of all your communications with your property manager.
- If the property manager tries to evict you for making a complaint, you may be able to show that there has been an illegal retaliatory eviction, not a “no cause” eviction.
Retaliatory evictions occur when a property manager attempts to evict a tenant in response to some action taken by the tenant. There are four kinds of retaliatory evictions:
- Eviction action or the threat of eviction
- A non-renewal of the lease
- Increasing your rent
- Decreasing your services
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Many people are unaware that the secondhand smoke can enter their apartments from other units.