Cigarette Smoke Detector

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Does anyone know if such a thing as a *cigarette* smoke detector is manufactured and sold? A friend I know is thinking of an investment property he wants to lease as ABSOLUTELY non-cigarette-smoke-friendly. He's at a loss how he could end a tenant's lease if there's no way of legally entering and proving cigarette smoking is going on in a building in our state (PA).
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Why he want's so dearly to dictate a rent-paying tenant's private activities is a mystery to me, but then, I'm not a liberal.
Anyway, the cheapest and most legally solid thing he can do is demand the highest security deposit the law or local economy allows, and stipulate a non-smoking clause in the lease. This way, he can gouge them on the cleaning and possibly carpet replacement. Your state probably allows a walk-through by the owner prior to the tenant moving out or receiving his deposit, and if so, smoking will be evident.
Of course, the tenant can always claim he went outside to smoke, and the smoke somehow wafted into the building. He can also claim the smell was there before. There's no real defense to these, so if your friend truly doesn't want folks smoking in the building, he should buy the property, install huge concrete blocks over all the doors and windows, and dig a mote around the property with some alligators floating around. He won't get much rent, but he won't have to worry about those filthy, nasty smokers.
Pagan
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In alt.home.repair on Thu, 8 Sep 2005 18:22:24 -0700 "Pagan"

I think the reason is most likely money. That's something most non-liberals seem to worry a lot about.
I suspect he's afraid later tenants won't rent if they smell cigarettes. I have a weak nose in general, but a lot of people can smell mere traces of smoke.
Meirman -- If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter. Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
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meirman wrote:

Both of my parents smoked when I was growing up and air conditioning was rare back then. Even worse, my mother hated having the windows open in the car because it would blow her hair.
Now, as an adult, my sinuses shut down within seconds of exposure to cigarette smoke. I get all stopped up as if I had a bad cold. You better believe I can smell where cigarettes have been.
My next door neighbor rang my doorbell yesterday while I was doing something and couldn't break away immediately. When I finally went to the front door, he was gone but his smoke was still there... or at least its odor. That's how I knew who it was... and I was right. It was him.
People who smoke have no idea how bad they smell to those who don't. My neighbor generally smells like a beer hall ashtray.
--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN

snipped-for-privacy@carolina.rr.com.REMOVE
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I agree,I have the same problems.And smokers are such litterpigs.
--
Jim Yanik
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Comes down to either a great aversion to smoking, or money. I'd bet on money.
If you have heavy smokers in a house, the smell can permeate everything and it takes a long time to get rid of it. Walls get coated with it, the smell is absorbed into carped, unsealed wood, etc. I don't know the legalities of all of this, but he is the building owner and may be able to put restrictions as a term in the lease. Putting in detectors is a bit anal though.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/




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Heavy smokers will stain the walls and ceiling. That's the main reason I wouldn't rent to smokers. He could paint the ceiling a brite white and save the stir-stick. After the tenents have lived there a while, he could compare the stick to the ceiling now and then.
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In alt.home.repair on 8 Sep 2005 19:31:10 -0700 "Yargnits"

Of course by the time the colors are different to the eye, a lot of damage will have been done.
He needs a real-time method of knowing if they are smoking.
(BTW, I still offer ashtrays to guests in my house who want to smoke. And I don't send them outside. But this landlord is not obliged to go by my system for my one house.)
Meirman -- If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter. Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
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On Thu 08 Sep 2005 08:21:38p, meirman wrote in alt.home.repair:

An occasional cigarette smoked by a guest is not going to ruin a house, but constant smoking surely will.
--
Wayne Boatwright **
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Wayne wrote:An occasional cigarette smoked by a guest is not going to ruin a house, but constant smoking surely will.
True. And I blame the landlord for having pride of ownership! Tom
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Yargnits wrote:

Thanks, great idea. I never knew this thread would generate so many heated opinions on all sides. (Mr. Schnerd, I'm in your camp. And Mr. Pawlowski isn't exactly wrong about motives.)
The reason I posted is because one of the things we noticed as we went through the two unoccupied units of the prospective rental acquisition is that the century-old ceilings were...stucco-ed, I suppose you could say. My friend relies on me for "tells" about real age of homes, about potential trouble spots, etc., only because I escaped a Money Pit problem a few years back only with my life and the clothes on my back.
I was stumped about the DEEP brown pock-marks in the unusual ceiling finish. I asked the seller if there had been water damage. He denied it, and I smelled no mold--and he further went into detail about how he had had the attic insulated at great expense. The roof was good, so I had no choice but to conclude from the unbearably acrid smell in both units, that the very attractive (exterior) home was being sold for as reasonable a price as it was because remedying the cigarette damage will cost at minimum 10K.
BTW, after making the post I found a couple of sites where cigarette smokeR detectors sell for around 2.5K.
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Pennsy,
You asked a good question and I think you are getting bad answers. What your friend wants to do is get proof that smoke in the apartment comes from tobacco as opposed to other sources of smoke which can also stain walls. Here's some info on a story from several years ago http://www.electricnews.net/news.html?code 62073 It seems such devices are possible, the question is whether anyone makes or sells them. Your friend should poke around on Google or write the folks in Dublin.
Dave M.
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David Martel wrote:

Thanks! I should have pointed out that the section of the great US-of-A where my friend wants to purchase this investment property is blue collar, angry blue collar, and that while a magistrate in a more progressive part of the country might not think twice about siding with a landlord who evicted due to breach of a no-smoking clause, the magistrate in this particular municipality would be bucking socioeconomics...and then some.
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In that case, you are probably better off finding a property that is easier to maintain, something without stuccoed ceilings, real wood finishes, and so forth.
A 'classic' home or building, one where, if restored and/or kept in it's original condition, would be worth far more than the equivalent remodeled or newer one, is probably not a good investment for rental property. The sad fact is, few people treat someone else's property as well as they treat something they're own. (Google Superdome Katrina)
Even if it were possible to completely eliminate the smoking of tobacco and other herbs, there's incense, candles, dust, cooking, and even ionizer air cleaners and fans, which can stain a wall, floor or ceiling worse than anything. While the paint stick compared to the ceiling trick sounds good, you would have a tough time proving that the difference wasn't due to normal wear and tear. Nobody expects the paint, or any surface, to be perfect and untouched by a renter, even if it's on the ceiling, for the reasons I just mentioned. In most states, if not all, I don't believe you can even deduct painting from the tenant's security deposit. Same goes with carpet cleaning or replacement. Of course, if it's only been a few weeks, and the place is a wreck, then you may be able to deduct these things, perhaps, but if it's been several months or more, forget it.
For rental property, it's best to find something where just about any damage short of an thermonuclear blast can be fixed with some patching compound and paint, and any cleaning can be done with a quick swipe of 409. Anything with fancy ceilings, wainscoting, or other pretty perks is going to be costly and heartbreaking to keep up.
As for my first response to your post, I apologize for my rudeness. I was unaware you were dealing with an older building, which would certainly be better off with non-smokers. Some folks here in CA are getting a bit extreme with the no smoking issue, and it tends to make folks like me a bit punchy.
Pagan
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Pagan wrote:

[SNIP GOOD WARNING TO POTENTIAL LANDLORDS]
Yes, thank you for the head's up. After researching ad nauseum the subject of jurisdiction over cigarette smoke--and also coincidentally (?) rewatching Pacific Heights over the weekend (about a renter from Hell), I decided never to invest in anything for the purposes of income. Whether or not my buddy opts for the same Carleton Sheets-free lifestyle, I don't know.
You directly and indirectly answered a question I've always had about why rental apartments are almost always filthy. I don't mean dirty, dusty, messy--I mean downright eye-watering filthy. The accumulation of tenants and their indifference over the years, in addition to the fact that *caring* about it will drive a landlord nuts, creates D-I-R-T that can't be gotten rid of short of gutting a building, and what sane person over the age of 30 wants to do that for a few bucks a month?
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Pagan wrote:

Not sure what political ideology has to do with this but I do own rental properties. Smoking is a *destructive* activity that causes damage to the property. It is very analogous to letting the pets pee on the carpet and the same reason why rental agreements often prohibit pets.
For a similar reason hotels have non smoking rooms because the smell of the smoke residue is not pleasant and hard to remove and they know they will have difficulty renting those rooms to people who don't smoke.

Gouge them? If they violated the terms of the contract (a lease is a contract) then the person(s) causing the damage should pay. You probably have never seen the considerable amount of work necessary to remedy the mess made by smoking.
Your state probably allows a

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Nothing, really, but sometimes I like poking at liberals. heh

Unless we're talking burn marks, I don't see why this would be called "destructive". It's certainly stinky for most folks, but "damage" implies something requires repair or replacement, as opposed to cleaning or painting.

What about old folks who pee, or worse, on the carpet? Or children? I don't recall if it's federal or state, but I do know it's against the law to deny renting property to the elderly or folks with children.

I'm told that when someone smokes much in a non-smoking hotel room, the cleaning crew has to shampoo the carpet, launder the curtains, and sometimes even clean the walls.
In a hotel room, this is costly and a pain. However, with rental property, where folks will presumably be spending months or years living there, a good cleaning is the norm anyway, as well as painting the walls, replacing worn fixtures, and so forth. Plus, hotels that even bother with no smoking rooms often have other furniture that must be cleaned, such as chairs and couches.

I agree, which is why I made the suggestion. Perhaps "gouge" wasn't the friendliest term to use, but it is accurate.
When you rent a property to someone, you must assume that a certain amount of "wear and tear" will result. It can, of course, be minimized, by a lease agreement that prohibits ownership of pets, running a business, or other activities, but it can't be eliminated. Smoking is the current demon that folks are complaining about now, but there are many unhealthful and 'destructive' (using your definition) activities that do as much, if not more, damage to a property. Some folks like 'cultural' foods, which when cooked produce an almost overpowering 'aroma' and/or large amounts of greasy smoke. Alcohol abuse and mental problems often result in violence, freely flowing bodily fluids, even messy suicide. Promiscuity can be messy, and adds much more wear and tear. Same goes with obesity. Crackhouse, meth lab, illegal alien staging? Not only can these leave hazardous chemicals (as in, one whiff can do permanant damage or death), which must then be cleaned up by EPA standards, but can also cost you the entire property when the government seizes it.
There are much worse things than smoking.
My only point is, there's just so much you can do to protect your rental property, and trying to control too many aspects of a renter's life is silly, intrusive, and most of all, pointless.
Frankly, your lucky if renters actually pay rent, don't piss off the neighbors, and don't really tear up the place when they move out.

Good call. I haven't seen a cleanup job that specifically targeted the effects of smoking.
I have seen the mess renters can make when they move out. I've also seen how hard it is to evict renters, regardless of what outrageous things they do. In California, it is easier to evict a tenant with a small fish tank (no pets) than it is one who isn't paying rent, and knows the system. I've seen the sigh of relief of a landlord who finally got non-paying tenants out of a house after over a year of court battles, even after seeing the destruction they left behind, such as broken windows, holes in the walls, torn out carpet, dirty diapers littering the back yard, and cockroaches like you wouldn't believe. They even tore the furnace out of the wall. This I did clean up.
This house was owned by a regular guy, owner of three other properties including his home. He sold it to my then employer at a steal, due to the scumbags living there. If he didn't, he would have been driven to bankruptcy.
Pagan
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I've never heard of a cigarette smoke detector. Several years ago, I read an article in the NEW YORK TIMES about the management of an apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that wanted to restrict the building so that all new tenants would be non-smokers. It was hoped that, eventually, the building would be a smoke-free building. All current tenants who smoked would not have been affected. They could stay, but no new smokers would have been allowed in the building. Apparently, some smokers started protesting and began legal action even before the smoke-free proposal got off the ground. I don't remember the details, such as whether it was a co-op or a rental building. I vaguely remember one of the smokers saying that a smoke-free building would be discriminatory. Another claimed that he had a disability and, therefore, needed to smoke. I can't remember whether he thought his disability was the need to smoke or whether he had some other disability that forced him to stay at home all by his lonesome self with no pleasures in life except the "pleasure" of smoking -- or some such nonsense. Again, I don't have the details, but you can probably search for it in the archives.
Frankly, I would LOVE to see smoke-free apartment buildings. Although I am currently staying in a house, I have spent most of my adult life living in apartment buildings, and I am sick of being exposed to second-hand smoke. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, and not a week goes by when we don't hear of the dangers of second-hand smoke in the news.
Perhaps, if your friend has a building smaller than eight or five units, he might have more leeway as far as what he can dictate. In some communities, tenants have more rights when the building has eight or more units. Does your friend intend to live in the building? If so, then perhaps he can tell prospective tenants that he or a family member has severe, life-threatening asthma or bronchitis and cannot be exposed to smoke.
I think stricter laws should be passed regarding non-smokers' rights. Granted, you can't tell a tenant what they can do in the privacy of their apartment (I think that has something to do with the tenant's right to the quiet enjoyment of the premises), but the problem with smoking is that it goes well beyond the privacy and confines of the apartment where it is occurring, and it DOES affect other tenants in other apartments. It affects the health of the other tenants and the peaceful enjoyment of THEIR apartments. Smoking also damages property. The odor of cigarette smoke can linger for YEARS. I bought a used textbook at Barnes and Noble about 15 years ago. The previous owner was a smoker and, to this day, the pages of that book still smell of smoke. They don't smell as bad as they did when I bought the book, but you can still tell that it was exposed to cigarette smoke.
I think your friend should definitely consult a lawyer to see how he can make his property smoke-free.
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chemqueries wrote:

In fact, he's buying it for a disabled (!) family member who does have asthma. I couldn't agree with you more on everything you say and am amazed, considering the incidence of asthma among socioeconomically deprived children who live in projects, that HUD has not outright banned smoking in-and-out of public housing. It's cruel and unusual, not to mention discriminatory, treatment of the underprivileged. (There, I spoke my mind.)

Yeah, it looks as if this will have to be the case--or at least the local municipal magistrate's record, to see if he was every called upon to adjudicate issues regarding second-hand smoke. What I don't understand is the *legal* basis for all the "no-smoking" apartment advertisements you see now-a-days in the classified sections of newspapers.
Maybe more on topic as far as this newsgroup is concerned, I should ask how much in general (and I do mean "in general") replacement of ONLY the "stucco" ceiling of a three-room apartment would probably run. On sites such as MrLandlord.com, there are suggestions about ridding smoke from walls--such as, of course, scrubbing them, and ripping out carpet. But this stucco crap on the ceiling would have to be entirely torn down.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Thats actually the simplest part. A lease *is* a legally binding contract between two parties. As long as the contract is mutually agreed upon and properly executed it is enforcable.
And the ads show the beauty of a free market at work. Clearly there are people who want to live in a smoke free environment or the landlords would not be able to include the no-smoking prohibition.

That would be totally dependent on what the material is and what the condition of the underlying surface is. If you are going to hire someone to do it the simplest approach would be to get some estimates.
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