Renter Rights

Understanding your legal rights, and the legal rights of smokers, is important when trying to change the rules regarding smoking in the apartment building where you live.

Important things you should know:

    • Smokefree policies are permitted under federal and Vermont laws, including in assisted and HUD funded housing.
    • It is important to note that smokers are not a protected legal class, i.e., there is no "right to smoke" under any local, state or federal laws.
    • The Vermont’s Smoking in Public Places Law and prohibits smoking in most indoor public places, which includes common areas of “places of public access,” including apartment buildings. These common areas include hallways, laundry rooms, recreation/common rooms, lobbies and similar types of areas.
    • Although there are no laws that specifically protect tenants from secondhand smoke, there are several potential legal remedies that you can pursue under common law theories and landlord-tenant law.
    • Non-smokers with certain disabilities may have legal protection under the Americans with Disabilities Actand the Fair Housing Act. If secondhand smoke seriously affects your ability to breathe, consult a doctor to have your condition documented.
    • If your landlord chooses to adopt a smokefree policy, it may be necessary to “grandfather” existing tenants until the time lease renewal.
    • Below are additional links that may help you understand your rights and limitations as a renter.
      - VT Clean Indoor Air Act
      - Fair Housing Act and ADA protections including complaint form
      - Legal Remedies including Smokefree Environments Law Project paper
      - Download the HUD memo encouraging housing authorities to adopt smokefree policies