Can you evict a tenant for smoking?

In the UK, around 13.5% of adults are smokers. That’s equivalent to around 5.5 million people! With this in mind, it’s likely that you may run into tenants who smoke at some point or another. 

Sure, smoking may impact the tenant’s general health. But smoking is also bad for your property - be it nicotine and tar staining, strong smells getting into soft furnishings, or cigarette burns on carpets and furniture.

For many landlords, tenants smoking indoors is a big no-no. After all, smoke can totally decrease the value and quality of a rental property and make it extremely difficult to attract new tenants. If you discover that your tenant is smoking indoors, your gut instinct may be to repossess the property.

So, can you evict a tenant for smoking?

No smoking clause in tenancy agreement UK

First off, it’s important to take appropriate steps to protect your property and stop tenants from smoking in the first place.

If you’re worried about potential cigarette-related damage to your property, you can always include a no smoking clause in the tenancy agreement. This clause should state that the tenant or any guests cannot smoke tobacco or any other substance on the premises without the landlord’s written consent. If your tenant asks for your consent, you have the option to say no. 

On top of this, it’s important to make sure that your property is kitted out with smoke detectors. This will help you safeguard your investment, but also keep you on the right side of the law. It’s also worth making sure you’re complying with other safety regulations.

If you discover that your tenant is smoking inside the property, they will be in breach of their tenancy agreement and you have the right to take action.

How to prove a tenant is smoking cigarettes

Before you can evict a tenant for smoking, you will need proof. Here’s how to prove a tenant is smoking cigarettes.

It’s fair to say that the most effective way to prove a tenant is smoking is to carry out a property inspection. Of course, there are obvious signs to look out for, such as cigarette butts or ashtrays lying around the property. Having said that, it’s unlikely that most tenants will be that careless. 

Luckily, there are a few other dead giveaways of a tenant smoking in property. Chief among these is the residue that cigarette smoke leaves behind. This usually settles as yellowing or browning stains on walls, ceilings, window frames and even curtains and other soft furnishings. 

Smoking tenants will usually do their best to cover their tracks and hide these stains. For example, they may attempt to paint over them. But don’t worry! Even if the tenant attempts to gloss over stains, there are a host of other tell-tale signs to keep an eye out for, such as the smell of cigarette smoke. 

Cigarette smoke tends to linger and can be difficult to remove. Even the strongest air freshener on the market cannot get rid of the smell completely. Cigarette smoke clings to curtains, carpets and upholstered furniture.

In other words, no matter how crafty your tenant is, in most cases, it will be fairly apparent that the tenant is smoking in the property. Don’t bury your head in the sand and turn a blind eye (or nose) to these signs when carrying out inspections.

You may even want to take the inventory with you to record any damage that isn’t just general wear and tear. To make sure you’re not inspecting the property too often, read or blog on how often should a landlord inspect a property

Woman breaking a cigarette

Can a landlord evict a tenant for smoking?

But the question remains, can you evict a tenant for smoking? Although it’s possible to evict a tenant for smoking on the premises, eviction is usually considered to be a severe punishment for smoking inside. In most cases, the judge will refuse the landlord a possession order.

With this in mind, eviction for smoking may not be as straightforward as it seems. Taking a tenant to court can be pretty time consuming and pinch your pocket. Not to mention, it can be difficult to gather sufficient evidence.

If you don’t have sufficient evidence, it’s unlikely that the judge will evict the tenant. But even if you do have an adequate level of evidence, it’s very rare for a judge to grant you a possession order just because your tenant smokes. In most cases, tenants will need to have breached several clauses in the tenancy agreement. 

In other words, even if you have a no smoking clause in the tenancy agreement, an eviction for smoking is pretty unlikely. 

Warning letter to tenant for smoking

Just because it may be difficult to evict a tenant for smoking, doesn't mean you’re out of options. If you discover that your tenant is smoking in the property, it’s a good idea to write a warning letter to the tenant for smoking as soon as you have gathered enough evidence. You may also want to include details of the no smoking clause. This will serve to reinforce that smoking is prohibited on the premises. 

Improper disposal of cigarettes is the single leading cause of death in accidental house fires. In fact, habits such as lighting up in bed account for one in three of all accidental house fires resulting in deaths. Thankfully, the number of Brits who smoke is falling year on year. This suggests that, slowly but surely,  smoking will become less of a concern for tenants and landlords. 

That being said, it’s important to take appropriate steps to protect your property. Did you know that landlord insurance can help cover the cost of damage in the event of a fire?  At CIA, we can help you find a comprehensive policy that won’t break the bank. Simply contact us today or get a quote.

We hope we have provided some clarity on can you evict a tenant for smoking? For more guidance, visit our advice centre where you’ll find useful information on everything from property maintenance to legal issues and much more.