Do you know your rights as a renter? Arizona law requires common areas in apartment buildings to be non-smoking. While that doesn’t cover individual units, it does give you some leverage to closely examine your lease and negotiate with your property manager.
Renter’s Rights vs. Smoker’s Rights
There is no “right to smoke” under any U.S. law. Smoke-free apartment policies are legal and permitted under federal and Arizona Law1,2.
There may be provisions in your lease, such as nuisance clauses, that may be of assistance in protecting you from secondhand smoke. Your lease may not mention secondhand smoke specifically, but clauses with other examples, such as noise, may also be applied to secondhand smoke3
Smoke-Free Arizona Act (A.R.S. § 36-601.01) requires the common areas of apartment properties to be smoke-free. Smoking is prohibited inside and within 20 feet of entrances, open windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed common areas of multi-family housing such as the main office, laundry room, fitness center, activity center, or clubhouse. Contact the Smoke-Free Arizona Office at 1-877-AZ-STOPS or visit http://azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/smoke-free-arizona/index.php#report to submit a complaint or report a violation.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA)
Nonsmokers with serious respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, or with smoke allergies, have legal protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Fair Housing Act. If secondhand smoke exposure seriously affects your ability to breathe, consult a healthcare provided to have your condition documented. Contact the Southwest Fair Housing Council at (602) 252-3423 (Phoenix office) or (520_798-1568 (Tucson office) for assistance.
Public Housing (HUD and Section 8)
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), owners of public housing have the right to ban, or otherwise restrict, smoking. However, if owners seek to adopt a smoke-free policy, HUD recommends that they “grandfather in” (exempt from the policy) those residents who smoke that currently live at the property for a reasonable period, such as until the next lease renewal. Public housing facilities that use a HUD lease can implement the policy by adding the smoke-free rule to the house rules or contact HUD for approval to make a lease change4. Contact HUD at SmokeFreePublicHousing@hud.gov or visit https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/mfh/hc/complaint to submit a complaint.
Click here for guidance on how to legally address drifting secondhand smoke.