Smoke-Free Multi-Housing

Smoke-free housing policies are easy to implement, legal to adopt and can improve a manager’s bottom line. Are you considering adopting a policy for your multi-unit buildings? Find answers to your questions here, and get the materials and resources you need!

Live Smoke Free has materials to walk you through the whole smoke-free policy adoption and implementation process.

Building Signage

Now that you have gone smoke-free, utilize our FREE signs and resident reminders to help communicate your policy to guests and remind your residents. These Common Area Signs and Clings are available to any Minnesota property regardless of whether or not they are smoke-free.

*For MN properties only

The following signs and promotional materials are available to any Minnesota property that has a smoke-free policy. Before you order, please read all of the considerations listed under the link to the order form.

Window/ Door Clings

*pictured right

Outdoor Metal Signs 12″ x 18″

  • Smoke-Free Building
  • Smoke-Free Building (includes electronic cigarettes)*
  • Smoke-Free Property
  • Smoke-Free Property (includes electronic cigarettes)*
  • No Smoking Beyond This Point (establishes a smoke-free perimeter)

*Electronic cigarettes must specifically be mentioned in your smoke-free policy to receive those signs.

Individual Unit Door Sign 3.5″ x 5″

Lawn Sign 18″ x 24″

Resident Reminders

  • Key Chain
  • Magnetic Notepad

To order

use our online form or print our smoke-free materials order form and fax/ mail to Live Smoke Free.*

*For MN properties only

Additional Information:

  • Smoke-free policies must cover a minimum of 100% of the indoor areas to receive our signs.
  • Orders won’t be filled without a copy of the smoke-free policy.
  • Live Smoke Free reserves the right to limit the size of an order based upon available materials.
  • Please allow 2-3 weeks for shipping.
  • For inquiries outside of MN click here.
Policy Adoption Materials

Here are materials to help you adopt a smoke-free policy for your building and/ or property:

Download the Model Smoke-Free Lease Addendum, Cover Sheet, and Exemption Form:

Promotions

Now that you have a smoke-free building, promote it!

Add your smoke-free buildings to the Minnesota Smoke-Free Housing Directory. All renters who call the Live Smoke Free office looking for smoke-free housing are referred to this site; it receives 3,000+ views a month. Let us help you promote your smoke-free building. Sign Up to create a free account today.

Shout or wave your new policy from the rooftops! Live Smoke Free lets smoke-free properties in the Twin Cities borrow a smoke-free banner for their building. Banners are loaned out for one month and the property is responsible for returning them. Access our banner order form.

For other promotional materials and tips, visit our section about smoke-free policy promotion below.

Additional Information and Materials

Adopting a Smoke-Free Building Policy:

A Three-Part Series for Apartment Managers

Apartment managers and owners often go through three stages when adopting a smoke-free policy. Live Smoke Free has designed these materials to meet the needs of managers and owners whether they are in the stage of contemplation, adoption, or implementation.

These steps represent folders of information that Live Smoke Free has available. If you would like to receive hard copies of the folders and their contents, please contact Live Smoke Free. For smoke-free housing programs who are inspired by our work, we ask that you contact us prior to reproducing, modifying or sharing our work, and that you credit us for the initial creation of these resources; we are very proud of the hardwork and creativity that went into making these resources.

If you are looking for information on adopting a policy in condominiums, townhomes, or other owner-occupied common interest communities, please visit our common interest communities tab.

Click on any of the steps below to learn more about the contents of each folder.

Steps to go Smoke Free

Live Smoke Free staff and materials are available for you to utilize when transitioning to a smoke-free building.

Live Smoke Free has organized the resources and materials that you may need for these steps into a Three-Part Series for Apartment Managers. If you would like to receive hard copies of the folders and their contents, please contact Live Smoke Free. For smoke-free housing programs who are inspired by our work, we ask that you contact us prior to reproducing, modifying or sharing our work, and that you credit us for the initial creation of these resources; we are very proud of the hardwork and creativity that went into making these resources.

Association boards of common-interest communities go through similar steps when adopting a smoke-free policy as their counterparts in rental properties. Visit our common interest communities section learn more.

Step One:

“I’m Thinking of Adopting a Smoke-Free Building Policy”

This is a first look to understand the benefits and steps to adopting a smoke-free policy. This step provides informational fact sheets, and a sample resident survey.

The materials below can be applicable to all rental properties. If you own or manage a housing authority or subsidized property, you may also find the materials for “Adopting a Smoke-Free Building Policy for Affordable Housing” useful.

Introductory Materials

Fact Sheets

Articles

Sample Documents and Tools

  • Sample survey to give to residents to assess desire for a smoke-free policy (pdf) (Word document)

Step Two:

“I’ve Decided to Adopt a Smoke-Free Building Policy”

Once owners and managers decide to adopt a policy, they must notify the residents of the policy change and begin to implement the policy. This step includes a customizable letter to notify residents of the policy change, checklists and timelines for policy adoption guidance, and a model smoke-free lease addendum. An order form to receive smoke-free building signs, and cessation referral information is also included.

Includes the sub-topic “Enforcing Your Building’s Smoke-Free Policy.

Methods for Adopting a Smoke-Free Building Policy

  • “Phase-In” Method: Begin having new renters who move into the building sign a smoke-free lease addendum immediately. Announce the policy change to current residents and have them sign a smoke-free lease addendum at the time of their lease renewal.
  • “Quit Date” Method: Decide what date you would like the building to go smoke free. Give your residents proper notification of the policy change and tell them that they must sign a smoke-free lease addendum if they wish to continue living in the building.

These materials will help you implement your smoke-free policy:

Introductory Materials

Fact Sheets

Sample Documents and Tools

“Enforcing Your Building’s Smoke-Free Policy”

By enforcing your smoke-free policy, you are showing all of your residents that you believe in the importance of the policy and the importance of protecting them from secondhand smoke. Enforce your smoke-free policy the same way you would enforce current building policies. In some cases, that could mean verbal warnings, written warnings, monetary fines, or even eviction.

  • Notice of Infraction form (complaint form to be filled out by manager and given to a resident who is in violation of the smoke-free policy) (pdf) (Word document)

Step Three:

“I Have a Smoke-Free Building!”

After a smoke-free policy is implemented, there are many free resources available to managers and owners looking to capitalize on having a smoke-free property. This folder includes login informaiton for our free smoke-free directory, publicity tips, and promotional materials order forms.

Includes the sub-topic “Promoting Your Smoke-Free Apartment Building.”

Thank you for protecting the health of your residents by adopting a smoke-free building policy! You have made a smart decision that will protect your investment in your building and the health of your residents.

You may have already noticed that smoke-free policies lead to buildings that are healthier, safer and cleaner. Browse the materials in “Promoting Your Smoke-Free Apartment Building” to discover ways in which you can market your building to prospective residents!

We look forward to helping you promote your newest amenity: smoke-free air!

Order Forms

“Promoting Your Smoke-Free Apartment Building”

Your smoke-free policy is an amenity that renters are looking for! Promote your smoke-free policy just like you would promote a pool, fitness center, or underground parking. Contact Live Smoke Free to learn more about how we can help you create a customized promotion plan for your smoke-free policy.

What is Your Situation?

Are you planning for new construction?
A smoke-free policy can help maintain the building’s clean condition and protect your investment from day one.

Are you renovating your building or purchasing an older building?
A smoke-free policy can help protect all of the hard work and money you may be putting into new carpet, paint, or fixtures.

Are you moving ahead with a policy with no other changes to your building?
Many managers adopt a smoke-free policy without renovating or doing major changes to the building.

Who determines policy decisions for your building?
Talk to the building’s owner or other key decision makers about the benefits of going smoke free.

Decide which areas the policy will cover:

  • Individual units: Covering all residential units ensures that smoke cannot drift from one unit to another unit in the building.
  • Outdoor areas: Depending on your situation and location, you can choose to allow smoking in all outdoor areas, only allow smoking in designated outdoor areas, or prohibit smoking in all outdoor areas. Limiting or prohibiting smoking outdoors can help reduce smoke drifting into windows and reduce tobacco litter on your property.
  • Common areas: The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in all common areas of all apartment buildings in Minnesota. Common areas include places such as hallways, laundry rooms, underground garages, rental offices, building entrances, exercise rooms, indoor swimming pool areas, and party rooms. For more information visit the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act web page.

How will ‘smoking’ be defined?

  • Besides traditional cigarettes, your smoke-free policy could include electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and Incense.
  • Live Smoke Free has sample definitions you can include in your policy.
  • You can learn more about electronic cigarettes, incense and medical marijuana here.

Live Smoke Free can offer consultations and presentations to your staff and residents.

Survey Your Residents

Find out how many residents smoke in their apartment units

  • Not all households with smokers allow smoking in their units
  • Some nonsmokers may allow guests to smoke in their units

Live Smoke Free has sample surveys and letters to send to residents

Conducting a survey serves three purposes:

  • Gathers information about the status of your building
  • Alerts residents that change may be ahead
  • Gives residents a chance to voice their opinion
Set a Quit Date

Set a time frame for implementing the new policy

Notify residents of your reasons for going smoke free

  • Live Smoke Free has a sample notification letter to send to residents
  • Inform residents at what time they will need to abide by the new policy if they wish to remain in the building
  • Reasonable notice: You will want to notify your residents about the policy change in a reasonable period of time. Depending on your building’s situation, reasonable notice could be 30-60 days. Live Smoke Free recommends 60-90 days notice.

Hold a resident meeting to educate residents about the policy

  • Live Smoke Free can present to the residents about the merits of a smoke-free housing policy.

Renew leases using a smoke-free lease addendum

  • Live Smoke Free has a smoke-free lease addendum
  • Live Smoke Free also has smoke-free lease addenda in Hmong, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese
  • Initiate all new leases with the smoke-free lease language

Determine your implementation strategy. Common strategies for converting to a smoke-free building are:

  • “Phase-in” method: This process typically takes one year (or the length of your longest lease period). Begin having new renters who move into the building sign a smoke-free lease addendum or policy. Announce the policy change to current residents and have them sign a smoke-free lease addendum or policy at the time of their lease renewal.
  • “Quit-date” method: This process may only take a couple of months. Decide what date you would like the building to go smoke free. Give your residents notice of the policy change and tell them that they must sign a smoke-free lease addendum or policy by a certain date (a few weeks before the policy change).
  • Utilize these timelines and checklists to help you with your implementation strategy.

NOTE: Residents who smoke can still live in the building as long as they abide by the smoke-free policy. A smoke-free policy does not force someone who smokes to move out or means they are being ‘kicked’ out of their apartment.

Determine Incentives
(if appropriate for your building)

Offer residents an incentive to sign the smoke-free policy early

  • Incentives could include a free party room rental, a discount on a garage rental, a discount on the next month’s rent, or other bonuses your building may be able to offer.

Consider offering the option for smoking residents to move to another building in your complex

  • For example, if only two residents in Building A smoke, offer to pay for their moving expenses so that they can move to Building B so that Building A can become smoke free.
Post Signs and Remind Residents

Send out a reminder announcement to residents a few days prior to the policy going into effect

Post signs at the entrances to the buildings and anywhere else on your property where you want to ensure that no smoking occurs

Signs and window clings are available for free from Live Smoke Free

Advertise Your Policy

Renters are looking for smoke-free buildings

Advertising that your building is smoke free will make it stand out to renters

List your building on Live Smoke Free’s online directory of smoke-free apartment buildings

Enforce Your Policy

Smoke-free policies are largely self-enforcing

Ensure that the lease language prohibits smoking and specifies that it is a violation of the lease to smoke in case an eviction becomes necessary

Document violations and get witnesses who would be able to testify to incidents of smoking by resident

Enforce a smoke-free policy the way you’d enforce other policy or lease violations (ie, documented warnings and possible eventual termination)

Be consistent, fair, and timely when following up on violations (try these tips for conflict resolution)

It is completely legal for a property manager to adopt a smoke-free policy for their rental apartment building (including individual units). We have addressed some of the most commonly asked legal questions below. If you have legal questions about your specific situation, you can contact Live Smoke Free or seek legal assistance. We have created a directory of legal resources that may be able to help you. More legal information regarding smoke-free housing policies can be found at the Public Health Law Center’s website.

Adopting a Smoke-Free Building Policy
for Affordable Housing

Whether you are a Public Housing Authority, Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Community Development Agency, or a building with partial funding from HUD or the Rural Development Agency, you can adopt a smoke-free policy for your building. The requirements for implementing a smoke-free policy in affordable housing can vary depending on the type of subsidy or assistance the property receives, but you can learn more by contacting Live Smoke Free.

In 2016, HUD announced a rule requiring all public housing to adopt smoke-free policies by July 30, 2018. The rule restricts the use of prohibited tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hookah. Use of these products is not allowed anywhere inside public housing buildings including individual units, common areas, offices, or within 25 feet of the building(s).

To find free resources and learn more about HUD’s smoke-free public housing rule, visit www.sfpublichousingmn.org.

Tools

Model smoke-free policy language for public housing authorities (includes optional Temporary Exemption form).

DOWNLOAD PDF DOWNLOAD DOC

Articles

“HUD Encourages PHA’s to Become SmokeFree” Article from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Ecowise newsletter.

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“Ban Smoking in Public Housing” Article by Dr. Jonathon Winickoff that appeared in Newsweek.

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“Smoke-free Affordable Housing: Picking on Poor People or a Case for Social Justice” Article from the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association.

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“Smoke-free Subsidized Housing Would Save $521 Million a Year” Press Release from the CDC.

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Memos & Letters

“Non-Smoking Policies in Public Housing” Memo to Public Housing Authorities from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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“Further Encouragement for O/As to Adopt Optional Smoke-Free Housing Policies” Memo to participants of Multifamily Housing Rental Assistance Programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Letter from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Minneapolis Field Office Letter.

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Letter from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s Minnesota Field Office Letter.

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Additional Resources

“Secondhand Smoke Seepage into Multi-Unit Affordable Housing” Law Synopsis

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“Smoking and Special Populations: Addressing Myths & Reducing Barriers to Providing Smoke-Free”

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“Smoke-Free Housing” A excerpt from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Leading our Nation to Healthier Homes: The Healthy Home Strategic Plan”

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“Secondhand Smoke” An excerpt from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes”

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Archived Housing Industry Webinars

Adopting a Smoke-Free Policy in Market Rate Apartment Buildings

Listen to our webinar about adopting a smoke-free policy for your market rate aparment building. This webinar is geared toward property managers and owners. You will hear from Warren Ortland, an attorney with the Public Health Law Center as well as Kara Skahen and Rose Hauge from the Live Smoke Free program. This webinar discusses the benefits of adopting a smoke-free policy, the legalities of going smoke-free, steps for policy adoption, and emerging topics currently affecting housing including e-cigarettes, medical marijuana and incense.

PLAY WEBINAR

Smoke-Free Housing: All Your Questions Answered

Listen to our webinar about smoke-free housing and emerging issues including: electronic cigarettes, medical marijuana, and incense. This webinar is geared toward managers who already have a smoke-free policy and for those interested in adopting one. You will hear from Kara Skahen, Program Director of Live Smoke Free and Warren Ortland, an attorney with the Public Health Law Center.

PLAY WEBINAR

Smoke-Free Senior Housing: Promoting Successful Smoke-Free Policies

Listen to our webinar about smoke-free policy adoption in senior housing. This webinar covers smoke-free benefits that are unique to senior properties, tips for successful implementation and compliance among senior residents, and a question and answer session with the property manager of a smoke-free senior property. You will hear from Rose Hauge, Community Outreach Coordinator with Live Smoke Free, Shelly Bakken, a Property Manager with CommonBond Communities and Warren Ortland, an attorney with the Public Health Law Center.

PLAY WEBINAR

Smoke-Free Housing 2.0: Emerging Topics

This is a videotaped recording of a session we co-presented with a representative of the Public Health Law Center at the 2015 MHA Working Together Conference. Here is the session’s description: “As the smoke-free housing movement matures and advances beyond a novel idea to an accepted practice, new questions are being raised by property owners and managers on issues ranging from how to implement smoke-free policies in federally subsidized buildings, to how to deal with emerging issues like electronic cigarettes, medicalmarijuana, and incense use within the building. This session will review these topics, and provide some guidance as to how managers of multi-unit properties can address these issues in their buildings. Presented by Kara Skahen, Live Smoke Free and Scott Kelley, Public Health Law Center.”

PLAY WEBINAR

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems,
Incense and Medical Cannabis

Frequently, managers have questions about other products that may be included in a smoke-free policy. These products include electronic nicotine delivery systems (like electronic cigarettes), incense, and medical cannabis (marijuana). This page briefly reviews these products, lists fact sheets about them, and gives some guidance as to how property managers of multi-unit properties can address related questions or concerns.

E-Cigarettes and Vapes

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) is the umbrella term for devices, including electronic cigarettes (also known as vapes), that deliver nicotine by vaporization. While there are hundreds of different brands and many different styles of ENDS, all of them have three primary components: a battery, a heating element, and cartridge that holds a liquid nicotine mixture. These devices heat the liquid nicotine mixture into an aerosol that is inhaled.

As of August 1, 2019, ENDS use in Minnesota is prohibited in indoor public places, including common areas of rental apartment buildings, in accordance with the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.

The reasons why many property managers prohibit ENDS use throughout an entire building (not just the common areas) include:

  1. Enforcement- Difficulties with enforcing a smoke-free policy could occur because many ENDS devices look like traditional cigarettes and simulate smoking; this could cause confusion among residents, staff and guests.
  2. Fire Risk- Fires and explosions have occurred during the charging and use of electronic cigarettes. The US Fire Administration goes into more detail, here.
  3. Poison Risk- Minnesota’s Poison Center saw a large increase in youth being poisoned by electronic cigarette juice; there were more than 10 times as many reports of children and teens being poisoned by e-cigarette juice in 2013 than 2012. To learn more, read the press release here.
  4. Property Damage – Emissions from ends can leave an oily residue that collects dust and dirt on surfaces.
  5. Promote Health – prohibiting smoking of all kinds promotes an overall culture of health in a community.

Learn More About Electronic Cigarettes:

Medical Cannabis

‘Medical Cannabis’ is term used to describe using marijuana for the purpose of alleviating a medical condition. Marijuana is a substance derived from the Cannabis sativa hemp plant; it contains the psychoactive chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, and other like compounds. Marijuana can be consumed in a number of ways including smoked, eaten, drank, and vaporized.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws permitting the use of marijuana for help treating medical conditions. In Minnesota, a law was passed in 2014 allowing Minnesotans to use some forms of marijuana, pill, liquid or vaporized, to treat an approved list of medical conditions; qualifying users will be required to join a state registry.

As it relates to housing, a key point to remember is that marijuana remains a federally controlled substance; property owners could potentially face consequences by allowing its use, even though it is permitted under state law.

Learn More About Medical Cannabis:

Incense

Incense is a substance that is burned to emit an odor. While there are many different forms of incense, all of them have two primary components- a fragrance and a burning agent. There are various reasons why people use incense including, obscuring undesirable odors, providing a pleasant smell, aesthetic enjoyment, and religious purposes.

Some property managers include incense in their smoke-free policy to prevent:

  1. Fire Risk- Incense is a material that is meant to be lit and smolder.
  2. Masking Unhealthy Living Conditions- This can include carbon monoxide, sewage, mold, and secondhand smoke.
  3. Negative Health Impact- Incense smoke has been found to contain hazardous gases and cancer causing chemicals. Incense smoke can also exacerbate existing respiratory conditions.
  4. Smoke Migration- Smoke and smells can migrate between units potentially harming and annoying neighbors.
  5. Property Damage- Soot and smoke damage to the unit is possible with incense.

Learn More About Incense:

TESTIMONIALS

Don’t just take our word for it, read what other property managers and professionals in the housing industry are saying about smoke-free housing

“We are super excited to begin the process of going smoke free. This is going to be beneficial for everyone that lives here! Many times over the past year we have been challenged with residents not being able to enjoy their homes due to their neighbor smoking. This new smoke free policy will resolve that issue. We would do everything we could to try and stop the smoke from filtering into the neighboring residents apartment home but it was never enough to completely resolve the issue, and that wasn’t fair to the resident that didn’t smoke.In addition to the health of our residents and our on-site staff we will be saving the owners money by reducing the cost of our turns. Our residents are excited to go smoke free and so are we!”

Jennifer Smith
Property Manger of Steven Scott Management’s Aspenwoods Apartments
Eagan, MN

“As an apartment manager, I could say that the main reason for having a smoke-free building is the maintenance cost savings, and that’s it’s easier not to have to deal with tenant complaints and safety concerns about smokers. But the indisputable benefit for having a smoke free building is our Ebenezer senior apartment community’s objective to promote healthful and meaningful aging and the best possible quality of life.”

Denise Bierle-Svec
Property Manager of Ebenezer’s Ridge Point Apartments
Burnsville, MN

“When we began with our complex being a smoke free property I thought we were going to run into major problems with the residents. Actually it has been a very rewarding experience.

One resident that was a very heavy smoker we found out that she quit when the complex became smoke free. The maintenance tech was fixing something for her and he was having a conversation with her and asked her if she was having a hard time the going off the complex to smoke. She said no and that she had quit smoking because of it. The maintenance technician came back to me, the manager and told me of the conversation, so I decided to reward her with a congratulations note and keep up the good work. She replied with a note of her own, “Dear Staff of Walnut Place, I want to thank you for your card. Your words of praise and encouragement have meant a lot to me. Believe it or not, but I think the maintenance technician, Gary has been my greatest supporter in quitting! This means a great deal to me!” She also informed me when her year anniversary was for her quitting smoking and a thank you again for our encouragement. So now I have it along with others on my desk calendar when their anniversaries are and send the cards of praise. According to this one resident our encouragement was the only encouragement that she had received so it meant a lot to her. ”

Joanne Swanson
Property Manager of Walnut Place
Rockford, MN