It is estimated that one in twenty adults uses an e-cigarette. Because of the growing number of e-cigarette users in the United States, many landlords and property managers are wondering if they should ban e-cigarette use on their Florida rental properties.
While a number of cities have imposed ordinances that prohibit vaping, the use of e-cigarettes is still in the gray area for many other places. If you’re asking yourself if you should implement a no-vaping policy on your single-family rental home, we’ve created a guide to help you make that decision.
What is an e-cigarette?
An e-cigarette or an electronic cigarette is a battery-operated device that produces an aerosol by heating a liquid mixed with flavorings, nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol, and other chemicals. E-cigarettes go by many names, such as “e-cigs”, “vape pens”, “vapes”, and more. Many e-cigarettes are in the shape of traditional cigarettes, while others resemble pens, flash drives, and other similarly shaped objects. E-cigarettes are designed to make users feel like they’re inhaling smoke without actually inhaling smoke.
Is vaping safer than smoking?
The process of using an e-cigarette is called vaping. While vaping is less harmful than regular smoking, that doesn’t mean that it is safe. E-cigarettes may contain fewer chemicals compared to traditional cigarettes, but they often contain harmful substances such as lead, diacetyl, and other cancer-causing agents.
What concerns do landlords and tenants have regarding e-cigarettes?
There are plenty of reasons why many Florida property investors discourage vaping inside their single-family rental property. These include:
The vapor produced through vaping does not completely evaporate. It may settle on surfaces such as furniture and floors. In homes wherein its residents frequently vape using e-cigarettes that contain “juices”, it isn’t uncommon to notice that many surfaces appear sheen and oily. The problem with this is that oil attracts dirt, dust, and other debris. Eventually, the furniture inside the home will appear dirty and damaged.
As a result of the residue, residents will be exposed to allergens and dander that may cause respiratory problems. The risk is even higher for rental properties that have poor ventilation systems or few windows. Over time, your tenants will begin to feel the symptoms of allergies, such as difficulty breathing, sneezing, and so on.
While e-cigarettes produce fewer odors that cling to clothing, curtains, etc., they still produce an odor that can be difficult to eliminate. If your tenant frequently vapes in one particular area of the room, the odor can stick around and be strong enough for an outsider to notice it.
Your tenants may not be bothered by its bad smell, but you, as the property owner, will have a hard time selling or leasing the home after it has been occupied by someone who vapes. Foul odors can chase prospective renters away. That’s why many real estate agents use artificial scents from candles and plug-ins whenever they show a home.
#4 Health Concerns
Vaping does put bystanders at risk of secondhand smoke. However, this happens only when someone inhales the vapor that is being exhaled by the firsthand smoker.
The problem is that not many people know this. If your prospective tenants discover that your past tenants used to vape inside the home, they may be deterred from renting your property. Regardless of how hard you try to convince them that the home is “safe”, there will still be renters who will consider your explanation irrelevant.
#5 Fire Hazard
E-cigarettes do not need to be lit, but they are still a fire hazard. They contain liquid electrolytes that may ignite if their built-in battery overheats. There have been incidents wherein vape pens have exploded while inside the user’s mouth. In fact, a study published in 2018 reported that from 2015 to 2017, there were approximately 2,035 vape-related incidents that sent users to the emergency room. Imagine how catastrophic that would be if the e-cigarette exploded while being unattended.
Can landlords prohibit e-cigarette use on their single-family rental property?
Landlords or property owners, including their property managers, have the right to prohibit tobacco use on their rental properties. This applies to both single-family homes and multi-family properties. However, landlords who have properties in states or municipalities that have their own laws against e-cigarettes must strictly prohibit vaping on their rental property.
Many states still do not have laws that restrict the use of e-cigarettes. This is because most of the no-smoking laws were created at a time when e-cigarettes weren’t as widely used. If a tenant wishes to live in a smoke-free and vape-free home, they may specifically seek rental properties that prohibit smoking and vaping.
Landlords should consider including a clause in the lease contract that clearly states that smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, is unacceptable. This would mean that a tenant’s lease may be terminated at any stage should they breach their contract.
However, landlords should also remember that they are obligated to grant their tenants “quiet enjoyment” of the rental property. This means allowing a tenant to freely utilize — and enjoy — the rental unit without any interference. Tenants may argue that since they rented the home, they should be allowed to “smoke in peace”.
Without prohibitory ordinances against e-cigarettes, you ultimately have the discretion to decide if you should allow vaping on your rental property. Since it is a tricky matter, it would be ideal to consult a lawyer who specializes in landlord-tenant laws. If you’ve hired a property management company, you may also seek professional advice from your dedicated property manager.
By allowing vaping on your rental property, you risk ruining your rental home and losing prospective tenants and homebuyers. On the other hand, by not allowing it, you risk being sued by your tenants.
Since e-cigarette guidelines may vary from state to state or city to city, it would be best to check with your local property management company. At Luxury Property Care, we will review your city’s ordinances regarding the use of e-cigarettes and help you make an informed decision.