HUD Opinion

On July 17, 2009, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a notice, Non-Smoking Policies in Public Housing, encouraging the adoption of smokefree policies by public housing authorities across the country.

    • PIH-2009-21 (HA) states: "This notice strongly encourages Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units." The Notice goes on to state that "PHAs are permitted and strongly encouraged to implement a non-smoking policy at their discretion".The Notice points out that PHAs are free to adopt non-smoking policies for the entire interior of their buildings, and that PHAs may make this policy effective for current residents, regardless of smoking status.
    • Download the Official Notice - HUD Official Notice for PHAs and OAs.

In order to better assist landlords operating HUD subsidized housing on the issue of smokefree policy adoption, the following information has been provided by the Detroit field office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

    • There is no HUD policy that restricts landlords from adopting smokefree policies in common areas or in individual units. The HUD Legal Counsel letter states that apartment owners are free under federal law to make their buildings totally smokefree, with as little as 30 days notice.
    • Smokefree policies are also permitted under the federal Fair Housing Act.
    • If an apartment owner who has HUD-assisted housing units decides to make the smokefree policy a condition of the lease, approval of the lease change may be necessary. It is, however, not necessary to seek HUD approval of changes to house rules.
    • HUD Handbook 4350.3 Rev-1 states: "Owners are free to adopt reasonable rules that must be related to the safety and habitability of the building and comfort of the tenants. Owners should make their own informed judgment as to the enforceability of house rules."
    • letter from HUD’s Seattle Regional Office Legal Counsel written in October 2004 stated that, as long as landlords are in compliance with state and local laws, it was permissible for landlords to adopt smokefree policies and “there is no written policy requiring grandfathering of any tenant.”
    • In HUD’s 2009 “Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Capital Fund Recovery Competition Grants”applicants who guarantee that they will make their facilities smokefree are provided a one-point incentive added to their applications.