Landlord‰s Duty to Disclose Smoking Policy

As of SeptemberåÊ20, 2011, residential rental property owners and/or managers are required by State Law to disclose to tenants and potential tenants, in writing, the smoking policy applicable to the property being rented. See 14 M.R.S. 6030-E. Implicit in this disclosure requirement is that the landlord actually has a smoking policy. This applies to a landlord who “enters into a lease or a tenancy at will agreement for residential premises.”14 M.R.S. 6030-E(2). It is not clear that this is applicable to a tenancy at will where there is no written agreement but caution dictates that every landlord should assume that it does. Very often, statutory disclosure provisions are interpreted by Courts very liberally to protect the tenant. This new statute requires that the notice be in writing and that the landlord or his agent obtain a written acknowledgement of the notification of the smoking policy from the tenant or potential tenant. 14 M.R.S. 6030-E(3)(C).The notice must “state whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the entire premises, or allowed in limited areas of the premises. If the landlord allows smoking in limited areas on the premises, the notice must identify the areas on the premises where smoking is allowed.” 14 M.R.S. 6030-E(3)(A). Prior to enactment of the statute, 22 M.R.S. 1542, the Maine statute prohibiting smoking in public places, was argued by some to have prohibited smoking in common areas of a residential rental structure. “Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas of public places ….” Though not absolutely clear, many have argued that this prohibits smoking in common areas of an apartment building such as hallways, landings and/or staircases. Although this position is less than certain, once again, a cautious landlord would make it part of his policy to prohibit smoking in such areas. A sample Disclosure Form as well as proposed language for leases, lease addendums, letters to tenants, etc. can be found at the Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine website, www.SmokeFreeforME.org.