For Guardian Management, the process of banning smokers from lighting up in apartments was a relatively easy one. On Sept. 1, the Portland, Ore.-based fee manager just said no at more than 3,000 units across the Portland metro, and notified an additional 5,000 units across the company's national portfolio that they had until Jan. 1, 2008, to stub it out. Talk about your New Year's resolutions.
Strong resident and owner support is undoubtedly easing the withdrawal, says Guardian portfolio manager Jim Wiard. “On the ownership side, everyone said, ‘Fantastic idea, go ahead and make it happen,'” Wiard says. “But we have also had overwhelming positive feedback from residents, and that has made it a lot easier for managers to implement the program.”
Still, competitive rental environments have some managers wary of any policies that make the landlord seem like an overlord. “We have not put any restrictions on smoking in units at all, and I don't think that we would,” says Diana Pittro, executive vice president of Chicago-based RMK Corp., which manages more than 7,500 apartment units. “Those are choices that need to be made on a personal level, not a property management level.”
Wiard disagrees. “The majority of people really do support a landlord's right to have a no smoking policy,” he says. “And surprisingly, they will even pay more to live in a building that has a no smoking provision.”