Is there a market for non-smoking housing?

Non-smoking housing is an exciting market opportunity for landlords. We recently conducted a Market Survey (PDF) of Portland-Vancouver metro area renters. We found out that three-quarters of renters would rather live in a non-smoking building, but less than a quarter of renters are protected by a no-smoking rule in their living space. Half of renters would even pay extra rent to live in a non-smoking building.

More than ever, landlords understand the benefits of no-smoking policies: less cleaning, faster turnover of units and strong renter demand. Since our 2006 renter survey, more landlords have adopted no-smoking policies; there has been a 29% increase in the availability of smokefree apartments in the Portland-Vancouver metro area.

Key points from the market survey

“We had an entire building lease up in just 30 days, because people were calling specifically for non-smoking units.” *

“Taking in the cost, it’s a huge motivator. Showing smoky apartments may lose you a customer. Smoke is not attractive.” *

Renters prefer no-smoking buildings

  • Three-quarters would rather live in a non-smoking building, "other things being equal."
  • Half would even pay extra rent to live in a non-smoking building.
  • 46% would feel uncomfortable renting a unit next door to a smoker.
  • Three-quarters say it's okay for landlords to prohibit smoking inside rental units to keep secondhand smoke from drifting into other units.
  • 22% report that their landlord prohbits smoking inside their living space.
  • A quarter of renters in multi-unit buildings are regularly exposed to a neighbor's secondhand smoke.

“Non-smoking is another amenity that we offer to attract people.” *

“It seems like most of my tenants are smokers, but they still want non-smoking units.” *

Most renters don't smoke and many smokers smoke outside their units

  • Three-quarters of renters don't smoke at all.
  • 16% of renters smoke daily—but only 12% of renters smoke inside on a regular basis (9% daily; 3% weekly or monthly).
  • Two-thirds of smokers agree that even small amounts of secondhand smoke are hazardous to your health.

To see how the market has changed over the last three years, read the 2006 Portland-Vancouver metro area baseline renter survey.

* Quotes taken from the report Opinions of Experienced Metro-Area Landlords Regarding Smoking Policies and Practices, Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc., November 2006.