Q: I was told the tenant only smoked outside, not in the house. Found out that isn’t true. Is there anything I can do about this? I rent to a woman (A) who I was told is a smoker, but ONLY outside the premises. Her AA sponsor, we’ll call her (B), is financially responsible person for the lease and (A) is the only tenant. (A) has been in the house a few days and I discovered ashtrays filled with cigarettes during a service call. I called (B) and questioned the smoking and (B) said (A) smoked outside when (A) lived with (B), because (B) is allergic to smoke. I felt deceived. I trusted (B’s) statement. (A) is mad because she feels she pays rent/utilities and it is HER house and she can smoke if she wants. How can I go back to the “No Smoking” rule in the house, when it was a verbal statement, not in the lease? If (A) is paying (B) money for the rent that is subletting and not allowed by lease. What should I do?
A: If the lease is with A or B and the smoking prohibition is not in the lease, you may have a problem evicting based upon a breach of contract or violation of the lease. You saying that you were told that A only smokes outside doesn’t really help as A apparently never made a verbal promise to you. Even if A told you directly, a court may view the lease contract as superseding any verbal statements. I would send her a letter by certified mail informing her that she is not to smoke inside the unit and will be held accountable for all damages including carpet, drapery and fabric cleaning and painting and any other treatments are needed to get rid of smoke. Inform her that damages will be taken from her security deposit and she will be sued if there is a balance owed. Perhaps this will cause a change in her smoking habits. If you really cannot tolerate the smoke, which is understandable, go through with the eviction process with the understanding you may lose money on this deal.