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Forum Spotlight: Tenants complaining about smoking

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

This weeks Forum Spotlight looks at issues caused by tenants smoking.

A landlord contacted the forum over problems caused by a tenant who constantly smokes in her bedroom.

The property is a HMO, and the tenant’s behaviour is annoying the other tenants at the property. One is even threatening to move out, as they claim the passive smoking is causing them breathing difficulties.

The problem

The tenant next door to her tried to get out of the contract a few months previously,(before the smoking issue) as he had found another property with his friends. His current contract at my house ends at the end of June 2018.

The non-smoking tenant now claims that the cigarette smoke is affecting his health, is giving him breathing problems and that he can’t sleep at night. I realise that passive smoking can be dangerous but can he use this issue to get out of the contract and walk away from his responsibility to pay the rent?

I have asked the tenant to stop smoking, but have not yet received a reply. I can’t stop her smoking, therefore what can I do?

What other landlords suggested

A member began by stating that because it seems like the property is a HMO, and that the tenants are not all members of the same family, the landlord has to treat the property as such.

If the tenant does not stop smoking, then this member reminded the landlord that they cannot force them to do so.

Instead, it would be suggested that they serve the Section 21 notice. They wanted to know which tenancy agreement it was; a joint agreement or an individual agreement.

Another member stated that it was risky to allow tenants to smoke in a property in the first place

They said: “Do not let tenants smoke in your property in the first place, and put it on the AST as a infringement of tenancy.

“I have one tenant who has been with us so long it is not in her AST, it causes so many problems.”

Response from our LAT

Our advisor began by suggesting that the tenant should be given a written tenancy warning, underlining that there has been a breach in the tenancy agreement. This should be slid under the tenants’ bedroom door. The landlord should also make sure to keep copies of this agreement.

The landlord should also inform the tenant in writing that she is risking her deposit, because it is highly likely that the room she is in will need redecorating if she continues to smoke in the premises.

The landlord should also inform the tenant in question that he has received several complaints from the other tenants in the property, who are concerned about the effects that passive smoking is having of their health.

He should also mention that the tenant’s behaviour will be reflected in any future referencing.

Because the tenancy agreement is joint, another option would be to serve a Section 8 notice, ground 14, might not be the best option, as it means that all tenants would be served with notice, not just the one who smokes.

Response from original question poster

The forum user disclosed that all five of the tenants in the property are actually on one tenancy agreement, and this finishes at the end of June 2018.

Because of this, the landlord felt that there was no use in presenting the tenants with a Section 21 notice, because all tenants will be leaving three months time.

The landlord thanked our members for taking the time to give advice, and agreed with the point about the smell having a lasting effect at the property.

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About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

1 Comment

  • Victoria,
    The Health Act 2006 makes smoking in a HMO illegal. If the landlord could prove this ( statement from another resident, – difficult I accept ) a prosecution could be considered.
    What a result for landlords that would be ?

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