Smoking Tenants Claiming They Do not Smoke

My property is a non-smoking flat. There’s signs throughout the property saying “Smoking in NOT Allowed”. The tenancy agreement also clearly states smoking is not allowed. One of my tenants (I have 4 professionals in the property), seems to smoke cannabis/weed (not sure what it is but the smell is so horrible so definitely it is not normal cigarettes). I’ve had a chat with them and I even sent them an email reminding them smoking was not allowed inside the property. During the inspection visit, the smell was very strong in one room and this was mentioned in the inspection report and the tenants signed it.

Lately, neighbours have been complaining about the strong smell of smoke in the stairwell. I wrote to them reminding them that smoking was not allowed in their flat or any common areas. The tenant (whose room had the bad smell) responded denying they smoke. The same tenant claimed the smell was from next-door neighbours and that none of them have smoked. This is impossible as no way the smell could get through the walls and there’s no windows to the let the smell through to the corridor.

It’s also worth noting there was a really strong smell when the agent visited the property to bleed the radiators a few months into them moving in, this was mentioned to the lead tenant and we agreed they wouldn’t smoke inside the property anymore. However this doesn’t seem to be the case as the neighbours have complained on more than one occasion. This contradicts what the tenant said about them never smoking in the property.

When I reminded the tenant with the inspection report, they insisted they do not smoke and it was coming from the neighbours.

The tenancy agreement is coming to an end soon. I feel I might need a professional company to do proper valeting for the property/room to get rid of the horrible smell. This obviously needs to come from their deposit… my fear is the tenants will dispute this and I will end up doing this at my own cost. Is there a proper way to deal with this funny situation?

Your advice is appreciated!

put a secret camera up that goes to your phone

That’s illegal for sure

aq security camera in a common area or outside for the security of tenants is not illegal

Thanks … I can certainly do this. I am more concerned with the cost of getting rid of the horrible smell inside the property if they continue denying they smoke.

do they drive ? there are drug drive laws. I know what I would do. The smell is something else . Maybe it disappears with time, as long as they do not keep smoking

As someone suggested on another thread, use an independent inventory clerk to do the checkout and if they report smoke smells/damage, the deposit scheme is more likely to accept it.

First yes you will shampooing carpets cleaning windows and if you are lucky wiping walls. Thats a given

Dont mess around beating yourself up just serve notice and get them out, its like lancing a boil. You have tried letters so you need to do something else.

…Have you actually spoken to them face to face to see who is smoking weed? Some people like to hide behind letters like council wallahs- being a LL needs a wider skill set.
If there are four faced with eviction they will likely dog the culprit in

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None of them drive… I think

Thanks a lot. Sound reasonable to me. That was the plan anyway, although people can be unreasonable just to avoid paying for their mistakes sometimes. Let’s see how it goes.

Thanks for the assuring message about what to expect as landlord… I completely agree… being a landlord is not an easy job!

I’d rather wait till end of the tenancy agreement as long as things do not worsen… so for not I will not be serving notice.

And yes, I have spoken to them face to face… I believe the reasonable ones of them have decided they would keep quiet about (it seems they do not mind the smell at the property and when it comes their mate or landlord, their mate wins!

Hi there. I am.really sorry about the smoking as that is not pleasant at all. However, definitely do not do as @Colin3 suggested. “Secret” cameras are absolutely illegal. You must clearly indicate recording is in progress and “communal” areas can not be inside the living space so only outside, car park, etc.

See here for some guidelines: Landlords and CCTV - What you need to know | Northwood.

My advice is wait till they have left and on the final assessment work out the damages, i.e. extra cleaning, an inventory report through openrent is a good idea and mention the smell to the inventory person and ask that it is mentioned in the report. If any pieces of furniture have to be replaced due to deep smells that can all go on the claim.
Make your claim with deposit protection, also you have witnesses to the smell, if not then get someone to accompany you to the premises. The inventory person is the best as they are not known to you beforehand etc.
It will be down to the tenant to prove that they didn’t smoke, as if your inventory report states smells of stale smoke etc., they have no case, but more than one witness on your part is better, the agent for one.

Hi Ashraf,
I invested in an Ozone Generator / Air Purifier - I bought an industrial grade one a few years back for c. £90; though you can get them for c., say, £50. I can’t recall how many hours worth that lasts for (a lot) - which certainly worked! I found it was a cheaper option than losing rent long term because of the smell! After tenants vacated, and I’d cleaned the place up, I turned it on for 2/3 nights when leaving the property (you can’t be present whilst it’s on).

Thanks Sue… It’s worth giving it a go. Can u recall the make/model of what you bought?

Thanks a lot for the advice and the link… Very useful. Cheers

That’s a good idea Chris. The inspection report we do is performed by an independent person. However, if u recommend OpenRent to do the inventory, I will definitely give it a try.

I had exact same problem with a couple who became Cannabis users.
What starts as a personal use recreational drug leads to them growing the stuff then they decide to start marketing the stuff there growing and other users start rolling up all through the night to buy the crop causing the neighbours to complain about being constantly disturbed by people slamming car doors and reving engines.
Yes, the house smells vile and the place gets littered with beer cans and bottles which seams to be the usual accessory that accompanies drug users.
I told the tenants I wanted them to leave, issued a section 21 and informed them I wanted the place decorating top to bottom. If they failed to comply I would use their deposit in full. Failure to surrender the deposit would result in their new landlord receiving a reference of truth involving anti social behaviour and also the police being informed that they were growing and dealing in drugs.
The result, They quickly left within a few weeks with rent paid up to date, surrendered all their deposit and removed their own rubbish.

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there is another aspect to this ashraf, serving notice really focuses the tenants minds, you can always withdraw the notice so you serve it but you could say i dont want to serve this, if the smoker stopped or left we could carry on. you can serve a section 21 a couple of months before the end of the tenancy but be very careful to get it filled in perfectly, judges love to throw them out.
there is no right answer here as there are too many human variables but im just giving you another option.

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