If a tenancy agreement includes a no-smoking clause, this is a material term of the tenancy agreement. A breach or violation by the tenant gives the landlord the right to end the tenancy if necessary. Use the same warning/enforcement methods for the smoking policy that you use for any other violation of a material term of the tenancy agreement.
Here are steps for enforcing a no-smoking policy:
If there is evidence that a violation has occurred, issue a Warning Letter advising the tenant that:
They have breached a material term of the tenancy agreement (give specific examples of the breach);
Make a specific statement regarding the compliance required, such as “cease smoking anywhere on the residential property” or “confine your smoking to the designated area of the property”; and
Clearly state that failure to comply could result in the tenancy ending (eviction).
Document all violations and conversations with the tenant.
Try to get witnesses who agree to testify to incidents of smoking by the tenant.
In accordance with Section 2.3(3) of the Tobacco Control Act, Landlords are responsible for enforcing the smoking ban in common areas and entrances of apartment buildings. The regulations do not apply to the private rental units, but do apply to areas that are common to all tenants,
workers and guests of the building.
Tips for ensuring compliance with provincial smoke-free legislation:
Removing ashtrays from areas where smoking is banned
Reminding smokers to smoke 3 meters away from the building (unless the municipal bylaw is stricter)
If the Landlord is not able to enforce the legislation, he or she should contact their local Health Authority, and ask for a representative in the tobacco control area. Tobacco Enforcement Officers through the various health authorities are charged with the day-to-day enforcement of BC tobacco control legislation.
Where municipal bylaws are stricter than provincial legislation, unresolved complaints should be made to the municipal bylaw enforcement department. Read more about BC tobacco laws.
Address complaints of second-hand smoke
If your building is converting to smoke-free status, it is still important to address complaints of second-hand smoke migrating from ‘grandfathered’ units where smoking is still allowed into non-smoking units. Some steps to consider:
Clarify with staff that while grandfathered tenants may be allowed to smoke in their units, complaints of second-hand smoke must still be addressed.
In the absence of a no-smoking clause in the tenancy agreement, if a landlord receives complaints that smoke from a neighbouring unit is significantly bothering other tenants, the second-hand smoke can constitute a breach of Quiet Enjoyment.
If warranted, a landlord can issue a Notice to End Tenancy for Cause if it can be proven that the smoke is infiltrating the homes of other tenants, and there is evidence that the smoke infiltration is severe enough to cause an unreasonable disturbance. Note: it must be more than a temporary discomfort or inconvenience. This is especially important if a landlord is seeking to evict a tenant for cause.