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Pretty Sure I'm Solid, But Would Like Thoughts

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What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? DC

The rental property is a condo. The Condo Association rules prohibit indoor smoking. Those rules were attached as a noted addendum to the lease. The lease also has a separate no smoking clause, which states that any "damage" from smoking is the responsibility of the tenant to remediate. Beyond all that, "move in condition" for the property was that it didn't smell of smoke.

So, I walked into the property to show it, with acknowledged notice to the tenant that I was coming in to show it, and was hit by a wall of marijuana smoke. The prospective tenants with me even took a step back and commented that it REEKED of weed. There was no smell of weed in the adjoining outdoor or common areas, so this wasn't a case of smells "leaking" into the property. And even if smoke was present in nearby areas, the doors and windows were all locked up tight when I walked in.

So, I notified the tenant that she will be responsible for the cost of a full HVAC cleaning, given that she violated both the lease and the property rules by smoking in the home, and, as a non-smoking property, I have an obligation to provide a smoke-free environment to future tenants. She claims she never smoked in the home and "won't allow" me to charge her for the HVAC cleaning. I mean, it's overall kind of laughable. You "won't allow" me to restore the home to move-in condition? I will do the standard "get three quotes for the needed service and take the lowest."

Regardless of that, I have a security deposit that will cover that cost amply, and will follow all the notice and repayment rules otherwise, so it's basically a "sit back and wait for you to sue" situation, but I'd appreciate any advice you all have on evidence or other topics so that, even if she sues, I'm clear. The prospective tenants who witnessed the problem with me are people I actually know socially, so it wouldn't be a problem to get them to write a statement that they also observed the OVERWHELMING odor and identified it as pot smoke without me prompting them. Bonus that they *loved* the place, but couldn't rent it because one of them has asthma and couldn't risk me not getting the smoke residue out completely for their health. I mean, it's even a "costing me business" issue at this point.



While I don't feel it's necessarily imperative to "prove my case," I did find a company that does air quality tests that they claim will identify marijuana smoke residue. That's my only hesitation...should I have the place tested so that I have scientific proof of their violation, or just let the "sniff test" of at least 3 people stand? While I feel I can amply justify the HVAC cleaning, justifying charging her for the cost of the air test seems a little more...doubtful. Obviously, if she sued to try to get her full security deposit back, I could justify the test as a litigation cost, but I'd have to do it long before any litigation presented. So, I could be out a couple hundred dollars for the air test if she ultimately decided not to sue for the cost of the HVAC cleaning OR be out that same cost if the court decided that, while the test proved there was marijuana smoke residue in the home, I had no reason to conduct that test before being sued for the HVAC cleaning. Alternatively, a court could decide that I had no proof, beyond a couple of potentially fallible noses, of MJ smoking in the house WITHOUT such a test.


I would charge the test to the tenant if it comes back positive. If the tenant's activities make the expense necessary, then the tenant has caused you this financial damage and the tenant is responsible for it.


Senior Member
You don't need tenants consent to charge her for repairs or cleaning up the damages from smoking in the unit even if it was pot so what you do want to do is carefully establish proof, follow thru with the clean up and any extra cost related to getting the smell gone say like special primers etc and let her sue you and be prepared to prove to the court that she did indeed damage the unit. Just don't talk to her about it any more, you want her gone and if she wants her dep back and threatens to over stay then let her know , your okay with taking her to court and letting her have a traceable civil court record that other landlords in the future will learn of and will use it as a reason to refuse to rent to her.

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