Smoke-Free Policies

Tips for Rental Property Owners

There are many advantages to adopting a smoke-free policy for your apartment buildings, including:

  • Reduced danger of fires 
  • Reduced painting, carpet cleaning, and other maintenance expenses
  • Reduced complaints about smoke odors
  • Increased appeal to potential residents
  • Healthier air for residents, guests and staff
No Smoking Symbol

Is Such a Policy Legal?

Property owners have the right to ban certain behaviors on their property to preserve its value and to protect residents. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office have upheld the right of property owners to include “no use of tobacco” clauses in their leases.

Adopting a Smoke-Free Policy

Making the transition to smoke-free policies works best with some planning.

  • Create a timetable for conversion to the new smoke-free policy.
  • Inform current residents of the plan and timetable for the new policy.
  • Inform prospective residents of the no-smoking policy.
  • Acknowledge the smoke-free policy in leases or month-to-month agreements.
  • Post appropriate “No Smoking” signage.
  • Develop a protocol to follow if there are violations or complaints of violations.
  • Provide residents with information about free commercial tobacco cessation resources such as Quit PartnerTM.

Do Partial Measures Work?

Apartment interconnections are diffuse and difficult to seal. Air-sealing and ventilation modifications cannot completely eliminate the transfer of smoke between apartments. In some situations, closing off large openings and upgrading to continuous ventilation that is balanced between units can produce improvement in reducing smoke transfer.

A Model Policy

A comprehensive model smoke-free lease addendum for Minnesota properties is available from the Public Health Law Center. The model lease addendum prohibits smoking of all commercial tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, everywhere on property -- both inside and outside.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone but especially to infants and young children. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get ear infections, bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia. Environmental tobacco smoke has also been linked to emphysema, strokes, and lung cancer in adults.


The following organization can provide assistance in planning and implementing a smoke-free policy in rental housing:

Live Smoke Free: Smoke-Free Multi Housing
Association for Nonsmokers - Minnesota
2395 University Avenue W, Suite 310
St. Paul, MN 55114

Reprinted with permission from the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department.