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smoking rules in housing

"Smokefree" Housing

rights, resources, and information






 

"Smokefree" Housing: How Do Fair Housing Laws Relate to No-Smoking Rules?

-What is "Smokefree" Housing?
-Are No-Smoking Rules Legal?
-How Does the "Smokefree" Housing Trend Relate to Selling Homes?
-How Do Disability and Accommodation / Modification Requests Relate to No-Smoking Rules
-Legal Requirements
-Where can I find a "smokefree" property? What other resources are available to me?
-How can I promote my property as "smokefree? What other resources are available to me?"
-Why Should I Care?
-If I Want to Adopt A No-Smoking Rule, What Should I Do?
-Mediating Smoking Disputes in Housing Settings
-I Have Questions. Where Can I Get More Help?
-What Resources Do the Fair Housing Council Offer with Regards to No-Smoking Housing?

 

What is "Smokefree" Housing?

"Smokefree" has become shorthand in the housing industry for a property that has no-smoking rules. One can not guarantee that no smoke has, does, or will occur onsite; it simply refers to a policy that prohibits smoking on all or part of the property.

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Are No-Smoking Rules Legal?

Yes. According to the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council, “Owners and managers have every right to restrict smoking in and on their property. Smoking is not a protected class under federal, state, or local fair housing laws.”

If you take a look at the list of protected classes in Oregon and SW Washington, you’ll see that smoking is not a protected class. What this means is it is not considered illegal housing discrimination to set policies that restrict smoking in a residential unit, building, or entire property so long as the policy is applied and enforced consistently.

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How Does the "Smokefree" Housing Trend Relate to Selling Homes?

As fewer and fewer people smoke, and most smokers smoke outside, finding a home with no evidence of smoking (to the eyes and the nose) is becoming an important priority for today's buyers.  91% of Oregonians prefer housing that has not been smoked in (Oregon Tobacco Facts and Laws 2011). Visit http://www.smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/SellingProperties.html for two tools that can help sellers prepare their homes for market and two more pieces--customizable articles Realtors(R) can use with their clients and prospects.

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How Do Disability and Accommodation / Modification Requests Relate to No-Smoking Rules

If one has a disability as defined by fair housing law, s/he may be able to ask for a "reasonable accommodation" or “reasonable modification” to allow him/her to make full use and enjoyment of the home.

Reasonable modifications are structural changes made to a unit that are necessary because of one's disability. Reasonable accommodations are changes in the rules, policies, and practices that necessary because of one’s disability.

In the case of secondhand smoke, a resident with asthma or heart disease whose condition is made worse by the presence of secondhand smoke might request a no-smoking rule be adopted or ask to be moved to a non-smoking building; perhaps separate ventilation or sealing off the unit will alleviate the situation.

For more information about disability as protected class under fair housing laws visit www.FHCO.org/disability.htm

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Legal Requirements: Oregon / Washington Laws that Concern Rental Housing

Oregon and Washington each have laws that address smoking in housing and / or public places.

Oregon Disclosure Law

As of January 1st, 2010, all residential rental properties in the state of Oregon are required to notify new renters of any smoking rules. You can view the language of the law at http://www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measpdf/hb2100.dir/hb2135.en.pdf.

The law states that the rental agreement "must include a disclosure of the smoking policy for the premises on which the dwelling is located. The disclosure must state whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the entire premises or allowed in limited areas on the premises. If the smoking policy allows smoking in limited areas on the premises, the disclosure must identify the areas on the premises where smoking is allowed.” You can learn more here:

Smokefree Workplace Laws

Oregon and Washington both have laws restricting smoking in public places that would include the common areas of your housing complex such as the laundry room, community room, management office, etc., as well as places of employment (this may impact housing complexes where management and / or maintenance staff work). Learn more here:

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Where can I find a "smokefree" property to rent or buy?

If you're looking for a home in the Portland-Vancouver area, you can search for your preference in smoking rules free of charge at www.HousingConnections.org!

What other resources are available to me?

HousingConnections.org has been providing service to the Portland / Vancouver market completely free of charge since 2002. Help us build the region's best local housing resource - check it out and tell a friend today!

Search for your next home for free at www.HousingConnections.org!
Search by price, size, amenities as well as by school district, neighborhood,
address, and much more.

Need help with the your search? Contact the Buyer / Renter Tech Line at staff@housingconnections.org or 503/802-8562. Learn more about HousingConnections.org here.

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What can I do to promote my property as "smokefree?"

If your rental or sales property is located in the Portland-Vancouver area, you can post your property free of charge at www.HousingConnections.org!

For more information on "going smokefree" we invite you to view this 10-minute video:


The Benefits of Smokefree Housing


Please note, the Smokefree Housing Hotline referenced in the video above is no longer available. However, there are two excellent smokefree housing resources in the community:

Within The Portland-Vancouver Area
Within Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Clark (WA) counties specifically, the American Lung Association in Oregon is currently funded to assist both landlords and renters with smokefree housing questions.

You can contact the American Lung Association in Oregon for assistance by calling: 503-924-4094 or by emailing: healthinfo@lungoregon.org.

Statewide
As part of Oregon's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP), there are local TPEP Coordinators in each county funded to work with local housing providers to adopt and implement no-smoking policies. They can specifically assist you in a variety of ways:

    • looking at model lease language and implementation strategies;
    • conducting resident surveys; making presentations to your staff or board;
    • providing no-smoking signage;
    • training on-site staff on how to talk about the policy; and
    • connecting residents to the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW)

If you would like to speak with your local TPEP Coordinator and / or schedule a meeting to talk to you about moving forward, visit http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/tobacco/programs.shtml and click on Contractors and Grantees to find your local Coordinator.

HousingConnections.org has been providing service to the Portland / Vancouver market completely free of charge since 2002. Help us build the region's best local housing resource - check it out and tell a friend today!

Promote your residential properties for free at www.HousingConnections.org!
Create your own account and post your free ad in real time.

Need help posting? Contact the Housing Provider Tech Line at staff@housingconnections.org or 503/823-4141. Learn more about HousingConnections.org here.

What other resources are available to me?

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Why Should I Care?

Secondhand smoke in housing poses a special hazard. Visit the American Lung Association in Oregon's website to learn the facts.

In addition, if you're a housing provider, you'll find that a no-smoking rule will allow you to protect your property from damage, fires, and excessive wear and tear. it will save on turnover costs between residents.

And, not least important, you will also realize a substantial market advantage. As more people become aware of the health hazards of secondhand smoke, no-smoking is an amenity that most people want.

A 2008 survey of Oregon renters found that most would prefer to live in non-smoking environments:

  • 70% of Oregon renters say they would choose a smokefree rental. This includes 38% of smokers who agree.
  • 40% would even be willing to pay a little more rent to live in a smokefree community.
  • 21% of those living in multi-unit properties said that secondhand smoke was drifting into their homes on a regular basis.
  • 76% say it is okay for landlords to prohibit smoking inside rental units to keep secondhand smoke from drifting into other units.
  • All groups, even those in the lowest income brackets desire smokefree living.

Most smokers already smoke outside:

  • 86% of Oregon renters are living in homes where their own rules or practices prohibit smoking entirely or that it occurs "rarely or never."
  • People smoke regularly in only 10% of renters' homes.

To view the 2008 survey visit http://smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/Facts%20and%20Figures.html#renetersurvey. For more information about converting to a no-smoking property and to view a 2006 Portland-Vancouver market survey, visit http://smokefreehousingnw.com and follow the Landlord button to the Market Demand section.

A subsequent 2009 Portland / Vancouver market survey quantified the growing trend of no-smoking policies in multi-unit housing.

  • There has been a 29% increase in the availability of smokefree apartments since 2006. Projecting from metro area figures provided by the U.S. Census, there has been an increase of approximately 13,000 rental units covered by a no-smoking policy since the original study.
  • Fewer renters are exposed to secondhand smoke today than in 2006 and more likely to find rental housing offering a smokefree environment. 76% of renters say they rarely or never experience secondhand smoke in their homes, compared to 70% in 2006.

To view this latest survey visit http://smokefreeoregon.com/housing/whats_new/2009%20Benchmark%20Portland-Vancouver%20Renter%20Survey.pdf

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If I Want to Adopt A No-Smoking Rule, What Should I Do?

If you're a landlord, first, visit the Landlord's How-To-Guide at http://smokefreehousingnw.com. This will give you ideas and suggestions including resident surveys, how to announce the new policy, etc.

Next, visit http://smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/Landlord%20tools.index.html#leaselanguage for sample lease language, order signs and stickers for your property, and read up on enforcement tools.

Finally, contact the following organization to purchase local rental forms and addendums that address this issue:

If you are a homeowners association or other housing provider other than a landlord, the resources listed above should provide a good model for you in your efforts to impliment a no-smoking rule. And, be sure to visit http://smokefreehousingnw.org's pages dedicated to Homeowners Associations and Buyers and Sellers!

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Mediating Smoking Disputes in Housing Settings

Do you know or work with people who are in dispute over drifting smoke in their homes? The Mediation Fact Sheet available at www.FHCO.org/pdfs/SFmedationFactSheet.pdf may prove very helpful!

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I Have Questions. Where Can I Get More Help?

There are some great websites with a wealth of information available to you. If you don't find the information you need online, contact your county health department's Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for further assistance.

  • Smokefreehousinginfo.com--Information specifically for landlords of all kinds
  • SmokefreeHousingNW.com--A wealth of information for landlords, tenants, condos, and homeowners associations, and for those buying or selling homes
  • SmokefreeOregon.com--This site points to SmokefreeHousingNW, but also has information about tobacco-free colleges and public policy.

'Still Have Questions? Follow the link below to find your county health department's Tobacco Prevention Education Program (TPEP) Coordinator:

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What Resources Do the Fair Housing Council Offer with Regards to No-Smoking Housing?

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"Thank You"

The FHCO would like to thank our partners and members for their support.
Their contributions and grants have helped to make the resources on this site possible.
Please join them in supporting our efforts!

 







If you have a fair housing question, or to report a fair housing complaint, please call 503/223-8197 Ext. 2 or 800/424-3247 Ext. 2 (TTY and translation available). Alternatively, you may call HUD at 800/877-0246.


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information@FHCO.org .| .503/223-8197 .| .Hotline 800/424-3247 Ext. 2

The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and the publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.



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