If You Can Ban Tenants from Vaping, Should You?
There has been a lot of noise in the press about the potential health hazards associated with vaping. Many deaths in the United States have been attributed to vaping. Health experts, there are recommending that more research be done into vaping, and known vaping lung injuries have now topped 1,000. Here in the UK, the Royal College of Physicians continues to recommend that doctors promote vaping ‘as widely as possible’ to people who wish to quit smoking.
These contrary views might leave you confused about your landlord rights. Can you ban vaping in your buy-to-let property as you can smoking? Should you do so?
The Difference Between Smoking and Vaping
Whether a tenant smokes, vapes, or does neither is your call to make. However, unlike laws on smoking, there is no law in the UK that bans vaping in any enclosed or public space. This said, more businesses and public places are banning vaping from their establishments.
When deciding whether you should do the same – and whether your landlord rights would allow you to do so – you should understand how smoking and vaping differ and how they are similar.
- Vaping and cigarettes contain nicotine
Nicotine is present in both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It’s the nicotine build-up that discolours walls, curtains, furniture, and everything else it comes to rest on. However, e-cigarettes contain less nicotine, and so the discolouration shouldn’t be so bad so quickly.
Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals, though regular cigarettes contain more.
Cigarette smoke also leaves behind a rancid odour. You can smell it on everything it touches. The smoke residue builds up faster, too. You may not get this with vaping, but there is still a residue left behind by vaping frequently over time. This residue is likely to be oily, and after a while, you’ll find a greasy build-up.
While vaping doesn’t leave behind the rancid smell of cigarette smoke, it does still leave a smell that would not otherwise be present.
- Tenants who vape or smoke leave landlords with a cleaning bill
It doesn’t matter whether your tenants are smokers or vapers if they smoke or vape indoors, you’ll have extra cleaning to do when they move on. While the visible signs are a little different, you will probably need to:
- Steam clean carpets
- Deep clean curtains and fabric upholstery
- Wash non-porous surfaces
- Repaint walls
You will also need to take action to remove the smell left behind – and that can be difficult.
- Vaping is a fire hazard
While not as big a risk as regular smoking, vaping is still a fire hazard. UK government figures show that a third of all deaths caused by an accidental fire in the home are caused by cigarettes and other smoking products.
Often, a fire in the home may be caused by an untended cigarette or by a lit cigarette when the smoker falls asleep.
E-cigarettes have been known to explode – often when in the user’s pocket. Imagine such an explosion happening when the user is in bed, and the e-cigarette is downstairs, in a newspaper. A house fire could ensue. (This video of e-cigarette explosions is likely to disturb you.)
Should You Use Your Landlord Rights and Ban Vaping in Your Property?
It has been estimated that as many as 15% of younger people vape. Allowing vaping in your buy-to-let property could help you sign tenants. On the other hand, it could mean a tougher clean when the tenant leaves.
However, while it will be the tenant’s home your property is still your property. You can ban pets and smoke from your property. You can also ban vaping. Should you wish to do so, you should:
- Ensure that the ban is stipulated in the tenancy agreement
- Discuss why you are banning vaping in your property
- Make the tenant aware that any damage or cleaning issues caused by vaping must be paid for by the tenant (again, stipulate this in the tenancy agreement)
There may not yet be enough history and knowledge about vaping to draw comprehensive conclusions about the effects of vaping on health, but there is certainly evidence about the damage that vaping can do inside a property.
Whether you’re happy with tenants vaping in your buy-to-let property is your decision. Whatever you decide, you should make your tenant aware of all the issues, your landlord rights, and their tenant rights. You should also point out the relevant clauses in the tenancy agreement that are related to smoking and vaping in your property. If any damage or cleaning need is caused by vaping, it is the signed tenancy agreement that will protect your landlord rights and your pocket.
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