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Smoke-free Housing: Information
for Landlords, Tenants and Owners

Tenants, home owners and landlords have rights and responsibilities to protect their health and property from second-hand smoke.
Public demand for smoke-free housing across the region is on the rise. A recent survey showed that, given the choice between two identical buildings, 80% of Ontarians would select the building that is smoke-free.

Information for landlords

Landlords have the legal right to protect their property and make it smoke-free.

It is estimated that up to 100,000 renters per year move because of second-hand smoke. Public demand is growing for market-rate, smoke-free housing. Adopting a smoke-free policy within your rental property is not only legal, but good for business.

The benefits of smoke-free housing

According to housing providers, it takes time to resolve complaints about exposure to second-hand smoke. By adopting a smoke-free policy landlords have reported a reduction in the number of second-hand smoke complaints from tenants. Smoke-free policies have clear economic and property protection benefits.

  • Turnover costs for smoker units are roughly 2-3 times higher (about $800 per unit) than smoke-free units.
  • Smoke-free units have higher resale value than smoking units, by up to 29%.
  • Landlords who implement smoke-free policies may be eligible for reduced insurance premiums.
  • Smoke-free units have a much lower risk of fire damage.

Information for home owners and tenants

Are you bothered by second-hand smoke in your multi-unit dwelling? The Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) prohibits smoking in the common areas of multi-unit dwellings. This includes:

  • elevators
  • stairwells and hallways
  • parking garages
  • laundry facilities
  • lobbies
  • exercise areas
  • party or entertainment rooms

This legislation does not extend into people's private homes or apartment units. Landlords and condominium corporations are free to set restrictions on smoking in rental agreements, leases and by-laws.

The benefits of smoke-free housing

Living in a smoke-free property:

  • reduces your exposure to second hand smoke
  • may help you or a family member quit smoking
  • reduces your risk for some chronic diseases
  • lowers the levels of tobacco toxins and nicotine (than in buildings without a smoke-free policy)

Did you know?

Exposure to second-hand smoke:

  • has been linked to many cancers, breathing problems, heart disease, stroke, pregnancy complications and sudden infant death syndrome.
  • creates the highest risk for children, pregnant women, seniors, people living with chronic health problems and pets.

Exposure to second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke can drift into your unit through:

  • electrical ducts
  • cracks and openings around window, door frames, floorboards, skirting boards and ceilings
  • shared indoor spaces
  • ventilation systems
  • patios/balconies 15,16

Exposure to second-hand smoke cannot be stopped with additional ventilation or air purifiers. The best way to reduce exposure in your unit is for your building to adapt a smoke-free policy.

What you can do about second-hand smoke in multi-unit housing

Try to determine where the smoke is coming from and how it is entering your unit. If it is smoke from a neighbour, Smoke-Free Housing Ontario (external link) recommends several options:

  • Talk to others to see if they are bothered by the issue as well.
  • Document the problem (external link), including:
    • the dates and times that smoke was a problem.
    • any health effects your family is experiencing.
    • your efforts to solve the problem.
  • Talk to other neighbours and see if they are also having smoke problems.
  • Contact your landlord, tenant association, co-op or condo board about the issue. Landlords in rental properties must act on all reasonable tenant complaints.
  • Advocate or petition (external link) to make the building smoke-free.

Learn more at (external link) or contact Halton Region Health Department at 311.

Did you know?

  • The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 does not prevent landlords from adopting smoke-free policies.
  • Implementing a smoke-free policy does not prohibit smokers from renting accommodations.
  • Current tenants who smoke cannot be evicted or forced to quit smoking.
  • Once implemented, smoke-free policies are typically followed and need little staff time or monitoring.