This article was posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California property management and Section 8 tenants followed by answers provided by the law firm of Simone and Blevins.

Note: The city or county in which your rental property is located might have additional requirements/restrictions on smoking. Make sure to consult with an attorney if you are unsure of the laws that may apply.

Q: My current leases do not prohibit smoking; however, I had a tenant vacate recently who left behind significant damage due to cigarette smoke. I would now like to completely prohibit smoking on my rental property. Do I need to provide my tenants with a designated smoking area? 

A: A complete ban on smoking at your apartment complex is valid. California law allows you to restrict tenants from smoking in any interior or exterior area, including individual apartments and all common areas. Thus, you do not need to provide a designated smoking area for your tenants and may restrict smoking anywhere on the property. 

Q: I own a duplex and I rent both units to tenants. My tenant in the right unit emailed me to tell me that the tenant in the left unit is smoking and it is causing them to have issues with their asthma. What actions do you suggest I take to resolve this issue?

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A: Housing providers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified disabled person. Courts have found that individuals  who suffer from asthma can be considered disabled due to tobacco exposure.You should enter into an “interactive process” to discuss the request with your tenant in good faith. Examples of possible accommodations that could be made are to restrict smoking to a specific area of the property that would result in less smoke exposure or allowing the tenant to break the lease. 

Q: I have a rental applicant who smokes requesting that I make an exception to my  “no smoking” policy in exchange for a three-month security deposit. Can I require a larger security deposit from this applicant? 

A: No, a security deposit shall not exceed two times the monthly rent for unfurnished units or three times the monthly rent for furnished units. 

Q: I have a new tenant in my townhome. In the lease, there is a provision that prohibits all types of smoking in his unit (cigarettes, vape, hookah, marijuana, etc.). His neighbors are complaining that the tenant is vaping on the balcony of his unit and the smell is coming into their unit. When I confronted the tenant about his vaping, he told me he has a right to vape/smoke in his own unit and that I am interfering with his right to privacy. Is he correct? 

A: No, there is no legal right to smoke and restricting smoking does not interfere with the tenant’s privacy or use and enjoyment of the premises. If the tenant refuses to stop smoking, then you may give him a 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit for breaking the non-smoking covenant of your lease.

Q: I would like to designate a smoking area in the common area of my rental property. Am I allowed to restrict some areas, but not others? 

A: Yes, you may prohibit smoking inside of the apartments while allowing smoking in specified common areas. You must include a provision in the rental agreement that specifies the areas on the property where smoking is prohibited. Be specific about the areas where your tenant cannot smoke in your rental agreement so a tenant does not try to argue that the rental agreement was not clear as to where they can and cannot smoke cigarettes. Additionally, any rental agreement or lease entered into after January 1, 2012 that prohibits smoking must designate the specific areas where smoking is prohibited.

The law firm of Simone & Blevins has been doing evictions for over 28 years.  The office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Tel: 619-235-6180website: or email [email protected].