Smoke-free policies adopted by landlords and condominium associations can play a significant role in protecting public health by eliminating secondhand smoke pollution, a major cause of preventable illness and death. At the same time these prevention measures can have many benefits and save landlords considerable time and money. Smoking related materials are a leading cause of residential fires; so many insurance companies are now offering smoke-free discounts.
As the public becomes more aware of the dangers associated with secondhand smoke exposure, the demand for protection from it also increases. Nearly 80% of the West Virginia population is non-smoking so more and more tenants are seeking out smoke-free housing. Landlords are finding it harder and harder to rent or sell units where smoking is permitted.
Many owners and operators do not realize that it is within their rights to impose smoke free provisions in all areas of their property. It is not discriminatory to restrict an activity that may cause serious harm to other tenants. Even in situations where smoking was permitted by a lease, landlords may still have legal remedies available to eliminate a nuisance or health hazard. Municipalities and counties in WV, have regulations in place that already prohibit indoor smoking in common areas like hallways, elevators, laundry and recreational rooms in multi-units and condominiums.
Tenants with serious disabilities may be protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.