Landlords and building managers have to deal with several kinds of issues daily. Most of these are routine: a leaky faucet, a faulty smoke alarm, and so on. However, in view of the current pandemic, the issue of smoking (especially when you have non-smoking apartments) and secondhand smoke is more serious than ever.
Here’s what’s going on right now: A lot more people are at home every single day. The concept of remote working will become even more common in the future.
Plus, people are becoming more attuned to their health issues, especially when it comes to their respiratory system. Previously, it wasn’t exactly ethical when secondhand smoke from one tenant affected the apartment of their neighbors. Today, a landlord could get sued for the same.
Not sure how to get that smoking issue under control?
Here are a few ways to get you started.
1. Conducting Resident Surveys
You can start off by conducting resident surveys about the issues of secondhand smoke and how to combat it. This way, you can learn what your residents think about the smoking policy as it stands now.
You’ll also be able to receive feedback on any potential restrictions on smoking in the future. By collecting this information, it will be possible to learn about the concerns, potential points of conflict, and questions that your residents might have. When you do start implementing the changes, it will be easier to enforce them when you keep all concerns in mind.
2. Educating the Residents
It’s also a good idea to educate the people who will be affected by the non-smoking apartments policies. After all, having apartments for rent doesn’t mean that you just sit back and collect money. It also means that you have a responsibility to give people the information they need to work as a community.
Start by releasing educational messages that will affect the residents’ way of thinking and also prepare them mentally for the changes. Include information on how secondhand smoke affects the health of the whole family. Getting secondhand smoke under control might even help reduce asthma in children. Once you wake people up to their basic right to a clean, healthy, and safe living environment, it will signal a lot of ease for future rules.
3. Clearing up Confusion About Non-Smoking Apartments
When you tell a smoker that they can’t enjoy their pipe or cigarette, it often triggers some feelings of rebellion. Make sure that the smoking residents in your apartment buildings don’t feel like they’re being controlled or that the new policies about non-smoking apartments are extreme.
Instead, clarify how smokers don’t have to give up that habit right away, nor do they have to find a new place to live. All the new policies mean is that they won’t be able to smoke in certain areas for the good of the community.
The policy should also be worded in such a way that the smoke is held up as the culprit, not the smokers.
4. Holding Meetings
It’s helpful if you host community meetings to give out the information we’ve mentioned above. This will also provide a platform where concerned residents can ask questions, discuss answers, and generally reach a mutual agreement about making the air cleaner if you want non-smoking apartments.
Hold these meetings when you’re considering a certain policy such as non-smoking apartments or when the new policy is being implemented. Seek out partners who are working on related projects within the housing community already. This way, you have trusted resources at your disposal. Some examples include asthma programs, health workers, etc.
Above all, these meetings will allow you to give residents information about cessation resources. You’ll be acknowledging their concerns and addressing them in the best way possible. People living in your apartments for rent will probably have a more closely knit community as a result. There will be more related advantages when this occurs, including the smoke-free aspect.
5. Sharing Stories
Whether it’s at these meetings or just when seeing them in general, encourage your residents to share whatever stories they have about secondhand smoke. Their homes and everyday lives are being changed by the new policies. So, they deserve to be empowered and acknowledged.
What’s more, getting to know everyone’s perspective will also gain more traction for finally adopting the new policies. This may result in more buy-in from the residents’ part as well to the idea of non-smoking apartments.
6. Having Appropriate Outreach
All the community meetings, information, surveys, and signage you use needs to be sensitive and culturally appropriate. This means having the text printed in different languages.
It also includes having bilingual and people of color invited to speak at the meetings. Neglecting this aspect of reaching out can alienate some residents and weaken the impact of your efforts.
7. Getting Into Collaborations
Think about how the existing programs can work with new efforts to go smoke-free. It’s important to get in touch with community leaders and stakeholders who agree with your views on providing smoke-free housing.
Having partnerships with such groups will also give you the benefit of their trust, goodwill, experience, and connections with both the residents as well as housing providers.
When you sit down with such groups, address the areas where you have common concerns and how all parties can collaborate to achieve their goals. At this point, it’s also essential to discuss how the parties can share their recourse, including time and expertise.
It’s also best to include all your staff in this kind of planning. Give them the training they need to properly implement, enforce, and uphold the new policies. Staff members should be aware of what the new smoke-free rules entail, when they start, and how they can help residents with their issues and queries.
Non-Smoking Apartments – The Takeaway
Secondhand smoke is harmful to both kids and adults. In condominiums and apartment buildings, this concern is even more pressing due to the pandemic. Ventilation systems, wall cracks, and even plumbing could take the smoke from one place to another.
The only solution here is to make the housing system smoke-free. You’ll be safe on the legal front, along with a reduction in fire risk and turnover costs. It’s a win-win all around. So, consider following these steps today. You’ll feel the difference soon.
Justin Becker is a property owner in the state of Michigan and has a passion for managing communities. He owns apartment complexes and mobile home communities, and has been writing his own blogs for his properties for several years.
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