You might think the answer is yes because it’s your property, you can impose whatever rules you like, right?
You can advertise for a non-smoking tenant and you can include a clause in the tenancy agreement that states that the tenant must not smoke and must not permit any guests to smoke tobacco or any other substance in the property without your written consent.
If your tenant asks for your consent, you can say no.
Laying down the law and enforcing it are two very different things.
If you believe a tenant is smoking inside the property, you’re within your rights to ask them to stop, but if they refuse or if they deny it, what are you going to do?
You could try to evict them on the grounds that they have broken one of the terms of their tenancy agreement, but to do this you would have to get a possession order from a court.
A judge might agree to evict a tenant for smoking on the premises, but he or she is more likely to consider this to be extremely harsh and refuse you a possession order.
Certainly, in order for you to persuade a judge to evict a tenant for this type of breach of contract, you would have to gather proof that they have been smoking on the premises, which can be tricky, if not impossible. You can’t drag a judge round for a good sniff, so to speak, so unless you have testimonies from neighbours complaining of the smell of smoke, or possibly a photo of overflowing ashtrays in the premises or of the tenant with fag in hand, you’re not likely to succeed.
A judge might be more willing to evict a tenant if there was a clause in a head lease that stated the entire building must be smoke-free, possibly to reduce the fire risk, but it’s a gamble.
An alternative approach would be to ask the tenant for a larger deposit to cover the cost of fumigating the premises when they leave, or even increasing the rent once the initial fixed term has ended. That might give them the incentive they need to kick the habit!
However, if you’re really opposed to tenants smoking, it’s better to vet them carefully at the outset. Remember to ask all applicants if they smoke and make it clear that this won’t be tolerated.
If you realise that you have accidentally ended up with a smoker, you should check that this doesn’t invalidate your contents or buildings insurance. If it does, you can use this as an excuse to persuade the tenant to stop, but if they continue, you should change your insurance.
Note that if you are letting individual rooms in a property, you must not permit anyone to smoke in the communal areas including the living room and kitchen, so if any of your tenants are lighting up anywhere other than their bedrooms, this might be considered legitimate grounds for eviction.