There has been some confusion in the law over what a landlord can do about cigarette smoking by their tenants. Some landlords prohibit smoking in their apartments. A recent case that went to the Landlord and Tenant Board (most landlord tenant disputes are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board) dealt with this issue. In this case, the Landlord rented a furnished apartment and the written lease specifically prohibited smoking. The Landlord found out some time later that the Tenant and his guests smoked regularly in the apartment. The Landlord then went to the Board requesting not only the termination of the tenancy but also damages for the repair of the unit including replacement of the furniture. The Board found that the smoke contained contaminants that were absorbed into the furnishings and carpet. The Board also accepted the Landlord's evidence that she wanted a smoke free building because those were the tenants that she was targeting in her building. The Board then terminated the tenancy and awarded damages against the Tenant. These damages were assessed at $10,958.85 but since the Board only had jurisdiction up to $10,000.00, only that amount could be ordered. The thing to take away from this case is that, under the appropriate circumstances, landlords can include a no smoking rule in a lease. Thus, if smoking does occur, a tenancy can not only be terminated, but damages could be ordered as well. I should add that most landlords do not include a no smoking term in their leases so there are many apartments available for those that do smoke. Also, here is the link to the Boards website: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/index.html.
Michael Cobb is a lawyer at the law firm of Cobb & Jones LLP. Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice.