Smoke-free apartments, easier said than done

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Algoma Public Health wants all landlords and owners of multi-unit residential buildings to go smoke free but it’s the landlord that has the final say.

A motion passed by directors of APH encourages landlords to put an end to smoking not only in common areas but the private residential units as well.

While a tenant who smokes chooses to accept the known risks associated with smoking, he or she doesn’t have the right to require others in the building to share those risks. says Smoke-Free Ontario.

Under current law, owners or landlords can not tell existing tenants to butt out in their home but can have new tenants sign a waiver saying they won’t smoke.

If there is evidence that second-hand smoke is infiltrating your home from a neighbouring unit or balcony on a frequent and on-going basis, and is substantially interfering with your use and enjoyment of your home, then your landlord has a responsibility to take steps to correct the problem.

Hotels and other types of temporary guest accommodations are explicitly exempted from Ontario’s smoke-free legislation, meaning that smoking is permitted in private rooms unless the hotel has adopted a no-smoking policy.

31 percent of those living in multi-unit dwellings in North Eastern Ontario say tobacco smoke has entered their unit in the past six months.

By law, existing tenants who want to smoke in their units are “grandfathered,” meaning they would be permitted to continue smoking in their units for the length of their tenancy.

If a tenancy agreement does not include a no-smoking clause, tenants are allowed to smoke in their units. Despite surveys demonstrating strong demand, smoke-free multi-unit housing is still in its infancy in Ontario. Many housing providers are hesitant to adopt no-smoking policies, believing them to be illegal, discriminatory or unenforceable.