Cigarette Smell In my Now Former Rental Property

My tenant left on 2/29.2024.

In the walk through everything looked fine.

I did notice one of those plug in air fresheners on, having allergies I immediately removed it.

When I went over this morning I noticed what seemed to be cigarette smell, not over powering but noticeable, I don’t smoke.

My nephew did some Hvac work there a few years ago and said one of her friends was smoking in there, so I’m sure it’s not my imagination. I didn’t pay any mind to it at the time.

I haven’t returned the security deposit yet. (next week).

I looked online on how to at least minimize the odor, I’m off next week and having it painted, should help I presume.

Would seem shady in that she used that plug in freshener to try to hide it.

What would you do ? just move on and give her full deposit back ? mention it ? reduce the deposit return ?

Does your lease specify no smoking? If not there’s nothing you can do. Smoking is a legal activity.

If someone was a regular smoker it would smell really bad. If you are going to paint that will probably eliminate it if it’s very mild.

If she was otherwise a good tenant I would return the deposit and not worry about it.

Having flipped many houses with smoke smell…I can offer some things that we have done to eliminate the odor:

If the odor is in the drywall, use TSP and wash the walls down really well. You may also need to Kilz before painting.

If its in the carpet…thats a little tougher…you may have to replace. You can try vacuuming with some strong deodorizers.

I bought an Ozone Generator and have had good success with that. You will need to run it in each room in the house. Its hazardous so make sure you follow the directions about ventilation and house being empty.

If your lease specifies no smoking then I would document that you are withholding some $ for a deep cleaning. If it doesnt…I dont think you have any options…


Thank you for the advice.

It did not specify no smoking in the lease.

The odor has subsided somewhat, newly painted and there is a nice cross breeze when doors and windows are open.

The question is whether there is any odor left when doors and windows have been closed for several days. Try that, and have someone who has a sensitive sense of smell check it out after about a week of being closed up.

I’d suggest putting a “no smoking” clause in any future leases.

I quit smoking ~10 years ago, and my two step daughters recently came for a visit. They took a few steps inside, and one said, “Dad, I thought you quit smoking?”

It had been years, but my never smoked-in-her-life S daughter smelled it.

If you smoked in the house…its going to get trapped in the drywall or carpet. I can always tell when a tenant has tried to cover up the smoking.

As a note to others who read this post…

Smoking can drop the value of a property significantly. So can pets and other things people might be allergic to. Smoking is one of the biggest items that can cause a drop because it can be extremely hard to remedy. Removing carpets, window treatments, repainting, etc. may not be enough to remedy the problem because the odor can get embedded into drywall, insulation, and other items. Another smoker may not notice an issue, but a non-smoker certainly can. Many people say that a former smoker can notice these issues better than someone who has never smoked.