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Smokers have less and less room

Smokers have less and less room

Québec adopted its non-smoking Bill in public places and smokers have had to adapt to new habits in more limited areas. There have also been major changes in the restaurant business which have been well accepted by consumers. Non smoking in bars created more waves and smokers must now go outside whether it pleases them or not.

As for rental buildings, the Law only states that tobacco use is forbidden in common areas of six apartments or more, and does not deal with the use of tobacco in rental units.

With the marvels of the Internet, we can discover that smokers must also conform to legislation, and at times restrictions are heavier than in Québec.

Court judgments prevail and this was the case recently in Manitoba (Canadian province) when a mediator rejected a complaint from a tenant against a large rental agency in Winnipeg that had imposed a smoking ban on more than 5,000 rental units. A landlord can refuse to rent to a smoker.

The mediator in the cited case explained that this regulation would allow tenants to better benefit from their unit and the common areas all the while improving the security and comfort of tenants. He also stated that this restriction can considerably reduce cleaning and renovation expenses caused by tobacco smoke.

Another ruling comes to us from a large Australian daily newspaper. The law is even less permissive and keeps a close eye on smokers. A decision from the Office of Fair Trading ordered a couple living in a rental unit to stop smoking on the rented premises. A complaint from another tenant couple said they were not accommodated by the smell of widespread cigarette smoke. The landlord had a regulation forbidding tenants to smoke in the building and in its rental units.

This decision marked a new trend toward imposing regulations on private space. The trend is aimed at imposing building regulations that could reduce freedoms in personal environments. The complaining tenant complained that the smell from cigarette smoke from his neighbours was so bad that it had forced them to sleep outside a few times.

In Québec, if a landlord decides to forbid the use of tobacco in the units of his/her building, he/she can do it. Under the practice of the Régie du logement, it is up to the landlord to impose this decision of he/she so desires, and this cannot be opposed. It is obvious, however, that if the landlord has not clearly indicated this on the lease with a non smoking clause, the tenant has the right to smoke. On the other hand, if tobacco use by the tenant causes him/her serious prejudice, he could ask that the Régie du logement cancel the lease and evict the tenant. However, he/she must have included a clause to this effect in the lease, or in the building regulations that smoking was forbidden.

It is obvious that smokers will see their spaces become more and more restricted, not only in Québec and in Canada, but in many other countries. The trend is maintaining itself....

About the author

Berthold Lévesque

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