Can I Monitor Tenant Smoking In My No-Smoking Rental?

How to keep tenant smoking out of no-smoking rentals is a constant issue for many landlords but how to monitor tenant smoking is the question

How to keep tenant smoking out of no-smoking rentals is a constant issue for many landlords. So how to monitor tenant smoking in non-smoking rentals is the question this week for Ask Landlord Hank. Remember Hank is not an attorney and is not offering legal advice. If you have a question for him please fill out his form below.

Hello Landlord Hank,

I put no smoking clauses in leases also we don’t allow burning of incense for that would qualify as smoking in our book.

Are there any devices that can be installed to detect cigarette, smoke and the like remotely.

And can they alert you if they have been tampered with?


Dear Landlord Trevor,

Yes, Aretas Sensor Networks has a smoke monitoring device that you can monitor wirelessly.

I don’t believe it is tamper proof though.

This could be a good option for your rentals and you could tell tenants it is a safety device, smoke detector that works remotely to help keep your property and the tenants safe.


Hank Rossi
Each week I answer questions from landlords and property managers across the country in my “Dear Landlord Hank” blog in the digital magazine Rental Housing Journal.

How to keep tenant smoking out of no-smoking rental units is a constant issue for many landlords. So how to monitor tenant smoking is the question
On dealing with tenant smoking Landlord Hank says, “Yes, Aretas Sensor Networks has a smoke monitoring device that you can monitor wirelessly.”

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Here is a recent Landlord Hank answer concerning tenant smoking in no-smoking rentals and how to prove it.

Dear Landlord Hank,

My lease specifies no smoking in the unit and even goes so far as to state that tenants may be responsible for all costs to repaint/clean if they do smoke in the unit, but I am struggling with how to enforce this clause because it’s difficult to prove.

When my latest tenants moved out I found the entire inside of the unit had a grey haze on everything (walls, ceiling, doors, and cabinets). They insist they didn’t smoke in the unit and suggested that it may have been caused by candles.

I’ve had tenants who used candles regularly before and have never seen this kind of thick haze. I’m certain they were smoking in the unit, but don’t have any evidence other than photos of how bad the haze was and my receipts for painting the walls/ceiling.

Is this sufficient if they challenge my deductions from their security deposit or is there a better way to prove this in the future?


Dear Landlord Gordon,

Usually, tenant smoking is easy to detect by the distinctive smell on walls, in carpeting and furniture, signs of ash or cigarette butts, and yellow or brown discoloration on walls, counters, cabinets, doors and trim.

Even with camouflage, you can usually find enough signs to prove indoor smoking.

If you want to know for sure if the haze you are finding is related to smoking, there are air-quality detection companies and devices that can confirm the presence of smoke residue from cigarettes.

You may also try a home air-quality test, but the accuracy is not as high as with a professional assessment. The Bosch Macurco D381 Air Quality Detector can detect cigarette smoke.

There are also smoke detectors available to alert you to someone smoking in your property, and a new “smoke sensor” should be coming to market this year.

Detection may be tougher to do now though since you’ve tried to erase all signs of this issue, including painting your property. Have you checked your vents and ducting for signs of smoking?

We deal with companies that have “ozone” machines that will be attached to your ducting and clean ducting and air handler as well as your unit to get rid of the smoke smell, and this is a great and cost-effective way to take care of the issue.

-Hank Rossi

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I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta.