Alice, My Roommate/Landlord Has Suddenly Taken Up Smoking!

Alice, My Roommate/Landlord Has Suddenly Taken Up Smoking!

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Ask Alice
Aug 25, 2015
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Allard Laban)

Hi Alice,

I need your advice! I rent a room in a lovely condo in a great neighborhood. My roommate owns the condo and has a great personality and a good eye for design. In short, I really like my living situation. Here's the rub—my roommate has turned into a smoker.

She smokes (in her room only) and I found a pack of cigarettes in the kitchen drawer recently. What bothers me is that in the ad that she placed when looking to rent the room, she specified she was looking for a non-smoker and that the condo is non-smoking. As a non-smoker, this was a great arrangement for me. I haven't approached her yet about the smoking. I have a sensitivity to the smoke and feel both annoyed and uncomfortable living in a house with the smell of smoke. I feel awkward bringing it up because she owns the condo and this is really "her house". However, as I dutifully pay rent each month, I don't feel like she is holding up her end of the bargain. I don't want our relationship to turn sour, or even worse, I fear the idea of her deciding to end my lease because she feels restricted in her own home. Alice, what should I do?

Thanks,
Up In Smoke

Dear Smoke,

You signed up for a smoke-free home and that is what you should continue to have. Sure, it's "her house" but you are her tenant and that comes with rights too. It sounds like you might not have an official lease, but if you do, get really familiar with the terms set forth in it. Those are the rules you both must abide by.

Because your roommate was originally looking for a non-smoker, I'm guessing that maybe she's a former smoker who had quit. Sounds like she just fell off the wagon a little. Be sensitive to this. She might even be trying to quit again which I'm sure would make you very happy.

Regardless, you agreed to pay rent for a smoke-free home. You need to calmly tell her that you're sensitive to any kind of cigarette smoke in the house, even in her bedroom (we all know smoke knows no bedroom boundaries). Emphasize that you really want to keep up the great relationship you two have built, but this is important to you. Try not to make any judgements about her or her health. Smoking is her choice, she just needs to do it outside.

Love,

Alice

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