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Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing
Why Go Smoke-Free?
Secondhand smoke poses a particularly difficult challenge in multi-unit housing complexes, where as much as 60% of the air in individual apartments is shared with air from other units and common areas. This is equally true for tobacco, marijuana, or any other kind of smoke (hookah, incesnse, etc). Smoke from one person's apartment can cause real and serious health consequences for other residents and employees living with asthma, allergies, and other chronic lung conditions. In addition to the health benefits, having an entirely smoke-free building can significantly reduce turnover costs for individual units and fire hazards for the entire building.
Going smoke-free does not mean that you prohibit smokers from living in your building; it simply means that smoking is not permitted in any indoor units or common areas. Implementing a smoke-free policy is an important way to encourage healthy living and ensure a safer living environment for your residents.
Smoke-Free Housing Directory - McLean County
The Smoke-Free Housing Directory was created to highlight multi-unit rental properties in McLean County that offer smoke-free housing options for residents. To be included in the directory, management has self-reported that one or more building are 100% smoke-free. Smoking on these properties may be allowed on patios or other outdoor spaces. We will continue to keep this directory updated with smoke-free housing options in McLean County to help residents find a safe, smoke-free place to call home.
View the Smoke-Free Housing Directory - McLean County (PDF).
Want to be added to the directory? Complete this form to list your smoke-free property in the Smoke-Free Housing Directory.
What do I have to gain from a smoke-free policy?
A smoke-free policy will help protect your property and residents from smoke damage and reduce the risk of fires. You will save money on turnover expenses because apartments will cost less to clean, repair, and repaint. As more people have become aware of health hazards of secondhand smoke, smoke-free has become an amenity that renters look for when searching apartments.
Is a smoke-free policy legal?
Yes. It is completely legal for a property manager to prohibit smoking at their rental properties, inside and out. It is not discrimination to prohibit smoking. Keep in mind, a smoke-free policy is not a no-smoker policy. Smoking is a behavior, not an inborn characteristic. If you have legal questions about your specific situation, seek legal assistance.
Will I lose money if I implement a smoke-free policy?
No, quite the opposite. Research shows that renters want smoke-free housing! Smoke-free policies can save money in several ways:
- Market advantages: buildings may be able to attract more renters by going smoke-free
- Reduced costs: a unit where smoking is allowed can cost two to six times as much to turn over as a smoke-free unit would cost. Cleaning costs are lower when you don't have to scrub, paint, and replace items in an apartment that smell like smoke or are covered in residue.
- Reduced fire risk: smoking-related fires are one of the top causes of residential property damage. By going smoke-free, you may also save money on property casualty insurance.
My tenants are complaining about secondhand smoke. What can I do about it?
If you do not have a smoke-free policy, consider adopting one that will work for your property. Several toolkits are available online or call the health department at (309) 888-5968 for assistance. Health Promotion staff and materials are available for you to utilize when transitioning to a smoke-free building.
If you do have an existing smoke-free policy, take immediate action to enforce the policy. A smoke-free policy is no different than any other policy you have in place for your tenants. Follow the procedures you use for any other lease violation, and consult your legal counsel with specific issues. If there is no enforcement, then residents will continue to smoke and other residents will not be pleased with the situation or with management's lack of attention.
How can I enforce a smoke-free policy in my building?
In most worksites and other public areas, little policing is needed to ensure that the policy is followed. No smoking policies are largely self-enforcing, meaning once the rule is established, most people will voluntarily comply and will expect others to do so, too. If an issue should arise, the same policies you would use for other lease violations could be applicable, so long as you have outlined the smoke-free policy properly on the lease. In general, if your tenants realize you are enforcing the policy consistently, most will follow the policy.
I am experiencing secondhand smoke coming into my unit from another source in my building. What can I do about it?
You don't have to live with secondhand smoke coming into your apartment. Here are steps you can take to help remedy the issue:
Step One: Assess the problem
- Try to find out where the secondhand smoke is coming into your unit (doorways, vents, outlets, etc)
- Write down the dates and times you notice secondhand smoke coming into your unit
- Talk with your neighbors to see if smoke drifts into their apartments too
- Talk to your doctor about all symptoms and illnesses caused or made worse by secondhand smoke
Step Two: Talk to your landlord
- Write a letter to your building manager or landlord to explain the problem. Keep copies of your letters or emails
- Meet with your landlord to talk about the problem
- Suggest the landlord adopt a smoke-free policy for the entire building
Step Three: Seek more help
- Contact your building's owners
- Contact our Health Promotion division at (309) 888-5968 or by email. We can provide you with facts about secondhand smoke and smoke-free policies, help you write letters, or suggest further steps
- Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing: Steps for Success
- Ten Tips for Implementing Smoke-Free Housing Policy (PDF)
- National Fire Prevention Association