Q: We own a fourplex apartment building with long-term tenants in every unit. The couple upstairs has asked us to implement a smoke-free policy for the building. They claim that the smoke from their downstairs neighbors enters their unit no matter what they do, through the staircase and even the adjacent windows. The downstairs people are perfectly fine tenants, have no intention of quitting, and tell us that we can't do anything about it. What should we do? --Wes and Judy Z. A: What do you want to do? In this area, because the law is relatively unformed, you have some options. If you want to declare your property to be smoke-free, you can write this rule into every tenant's lease or rental agreement. No court has held that smokers have a right to smoke that trumps a landlord's no-smoking policy, nor have smokers been declared a "protected class," like people of a certain race or religion, giving them protection from onerous treatment. Of course, you'll have to w...
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