FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What can I do about secondhand smoke?
Q. I have health problems. Can I request a Reasonable Accommodation?
Q. Can my landlord evict me if I complain about secondhand smoke?

Q. What can I do about secondhand smoke?
A. If secondhand smoke is drifting into your apartment, your health may be at risk. Think about whether you would like to move to a non-smoking building or try to work with neighbors and landlord to make your building non-smoking. It is important to document the problem as closely as you can. Write down where and when smoke is coming into your apartment. Put all of your requests to your landlord in writing, and keep copies of everything. Send all correspondence with a "certificate of mailing", which proves that you sent the letter. Please see our Sample Landlord Letter (PDF). Keep a written record. Use our Secondhand Smoke Communication Record (PDF) to keep track of all correspondence with your landlord, the smoking neighbors, and any other agencies you talk to. Make an appointment with your doctor to have your health evaluated. Please also see our section on Quick Fixes for ideas on how to reduce the secondhand smoke drifting into your apartment.
Note that the only way to avoid the health hazards of secondhand smoke is by living in a completely smokefree building.
Q. I have health problems. Can I request a Reasonable Accommodation?
A. In most types of housing, the Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, which is defined as having a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; having a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment. Breathing is a major life activity. If you have a disability, you may be able to ask for "reasonable accommodations" to allow you to use your housing just like everybody else. An example would be a ramp for a person in a wheelchair. If you have a disability that is affected by secondhand smoke, and secondhand smoke is preventing you from having equal access to your housing, you might be able to request a reasonable accommodation, such as a no-smoking rule for your building, being moved to a non-smoking building, separate ventilation or sealing off your apartment. Please see the section on the Federal Fair Housing Act for more information on requesting reasonable accommodations. Call the Fair Housing Council of Oregon's Fair Housing Hotline at 800-424-3247 x2 . The Fair Housing Council serves Clark County, Washington as well as Oregon.
Q. Can my landlord evict me if I complain about secondhand smoke?
A. In both Oregon and Washington, landlords can evict tenants for "no cause," but it is illegal to evict a tenant in retaliation (PDF) for making a complaint. It is very important that you keep a written record (PDF)) of all your communications with your landlord. If they try to evict you for making a complaint, you can show that it is an illegal retaliatory eviction, not a "no cause" eviction. There are four kinds of retaliatory evictions: eviction action or the threat of it, non-renewal of the lease, increasing the rent, and decreasing the services. The Community Alliance of Tenants has more information on this subject for Oregon renters. In Washington, renters can contact Tenants Union of Washington State.