Apartment building opts for smoke-free

Jul 29 2011

 By Chris Montanini of the Londoner


There's no room for smoking at 70 Capulet Lane, a new apartment building in west London being billed as the city's first "smoke-free" apartment complex.

"When we realized it was legally available to us we decided to give it a shot and we're quite happy that we did it, it's been quite successful," said Allan Drewlo, vice president of Drewlo Holdings, the local company behind 70 Capulet and three other buildings in Capulet Towers.

"We're advertising it that way and when (tenants) come in to sign the lease agreement, they actually sign an addendum that they agree that them and their guests and anybody else that visits — they'll help enforce the non-smoking (rule) with the threat of eviction."

Drewlo said the company was inspired to make 70 Capulet a smoke-free building after learning about similar ones in Ottawa.

"It's not like we're prohibiting smoking or making a judgment," he said, adding that the three other buildings near 70 Capulet are smoking and non-smoking. "We're just offering another option for people who don't smoke."

There's an ongoing awareness push from Smoke-Free Housing Ontario — a website created by the Non-Smokers Rights Association — to educate tenants and landlords about the legalities behind non-smoking buildings, which the website says are legal, non-discriminatory and enforceable.

"It is totally and perfectly legal for a landlord to make an apartment smoke-free," said Lorraine Fry, the association's executive director.

According to the website, no-smoking policies do not prohibit smokers from renting, do not evict current smokers and do not force tenants to quit smoking.

The policies comply with the province's Residential Tenancies Act and landlords and tenants can file applications for adjudication to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board to resolve any issues.

Drewlo said so far it's been smooth sailing for 70 Capulet though, which is now almost full since being launched in March.

"We'll obviously have to enforce it if that becomes an issue but I think it won't become a problem because everybody's of like-mind when they're moving in," Drewlo said. "They're coming here for the purpose that they don't want smoke."

The company's next building in Burlington will be smoke-free too, Drewlo said, suggesting that as landlords become more familiar with the idea, it might become more popular.

"I think it's definitely going to become a little more popular, for sure," Drewlo said. "I don't know to what extent, but when you have a project like this — lots of different towers — I definitely see it being an option when you're not going to eliminate the smoker market."

Similar stories from across Canada are posted on Smoke Free Housing Ontario's website —www.smokefreehousingon.ca.

In Barrie, a 156 unit social housing residence went completely smoke-free in 2008 with a "grandfather" clause for current smokers in the building.

Another example is The Greater Edmonton Foundation, which oversees around 1,800 subsidized housing units for low-income seniors in Alberta, the majority of which are now smoke-free.

"Sometimes landlords are nervous about adopting the no-smoking policy or evicting," Fry said. "One of the signature pieces that we work on is a voluntary approach to smoke-free multi-dwelling units."