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Swedish landlord to pay tenants who tattle on smoking neighbours

David Landes · 13 Jan 2011, 16:18

Published: 13 Jan 2011 14:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Jan 2011 16:18 GMT+01:00

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"The whole concept is wrongheaded from the start," Niclas Sundell, general counsel for the northern region of the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen), told The Local.

According to the rental contract for a set of rental flats managed by landlord Mitthem in Sundsvall in northern Sweden, tenants are not allowed to smoke.

Not only are residents and their visitors prohibited from smoking in the apartments located Nackstavägen 22-24, but they are also not allowed to smoke on their balconies or common areas.

"People aren't allowed to smoke anywhere in the building or on their balconies," Mitthem spokesperson Joanna Nordlander told The Local.

She said her office had received "several" complaints since tenants moved in under the new no-smoking rules in September 2010.

In an effort to enforce the rules, the landlord is using an offer of cold hard cash in hopes of enlisting tenants to keep tabs on whether or not their neighbours light up.

"We are going to offer a reward of 5,000 kronor ($740) to tenants who can help us determine which people are smoking," Mitthem CEO Hans Selling said in a statement titled "Mitthem takes off the gloves."

Sundell explained that Mitthem's attempt to encourage neighbours to monitor one another's behaviour puts them in an awkward position.

"The main problem is that it's not good for harmony between neighbours when you have people turning each other in," he said.

Sundell also took issue with Mitthem's approach to creating a smoke-free environment.

"The accepted practice when it comes to rental apartment is that tenants be allowed to smoke in their apartments. It doesn't help if it's simply written in the contract," he said.

Sundell also thought that any tenants threatened with eviction after being accused of violating Mitthem's no-smoking policy would find it easy to defend themselves.

Story continues below…

"If someone testifies against you, you can easily say that the person was paid to make the accusation. The policy doesn't make for very credible witnesses," he said.

Mitthem's Nordlander explained that no one would be evicted based simply on the testimony of a neighbour.

"If we receive a call from a tenant saying that their neighbour is smoking then we can go there and see for ourselves," she explained.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:11 January 13, 2011 by countrylife
How can this not be a good idea? I have tenants smoking in my apartment building and it is absolutely horrible.

If the contract includes a non-smoking policy, I think the landlord is entitled to attempt to discover those tenants that are breaking the rules. Surely there is not some overall Swedish law when you rent apartments you must allow your tenants the right to smoke, is there?? (It's of course possible there is, I suppose, but if so, I think it's crazy!) Obviously, he will need more than the word of another tenant to remove someone from their apartment, but it is a definite start.

As for it being "not good for harmony between neighbours", I would have thought that neighbours smoking where they are not permitted to was managing this itself.
18:05 January 13, 2011 by coot
@countrylife: Ok, so it is horrible to have your neighbors smoking. Does the landlord have to PAY YOU to report it?

The article says they are already receiving complaints. Why do they have to pay to receive more? Paying for the reports seems to be a solution looking for a problem.

Of course, it may cause more problems: Can I make a little extra cash now and then by falsely reporting my neighbors?
19:20 January 13, 2011 by Nemesis
I am in a bostad.

I really wish we had that rule were I live. I have neighbours who smoke like chimneys.
22:08 January 13, 2011 by maxbrando
Good for the landlord!!! The scumbags who believe they can do anything they want withoutr regard to the contracts they signed, deserve to be thrown into the snow. It is this kind of arrogance that poisons America these days. Assange is the perfect kind of person Sweden needs if you support the smokers who violate their contracts..
22:09 January 13, 2011 by kenny8076
no smoking on the balcony is a bit much..... Sweden shouldn have the right to say yu can smoke on your own balcony when they cant even provide enough housing for everyone..... if these smokers had a chance to live somewhere else im sure they would
01:08 January 14, 2011 by Acroyear
Can I have money for reporting my neighbours when they:

1) fart or burp on the balcony/in the laundry/staircase/bike room

2) start their crappy Volvos/machines outside my flat before 10.30 am

3) open tins of fermented herring within 200 m of my living space

4) play radio, TV programs or music through speakers rather than headphones

5) close doors, shower, wee, poo, flush bog, move chairs, bang, scrape things etc.

6) dress, look, act and talk sh*te and/or use vacuum cleaners

7) act like little hamsters on their noisy home exercise equipment


Then either stuff your self-righteous anti-smoking regulations where the sun don't shine or relax by smoking a good cigar or whatever else appeals.
05:45 January 14, 2011 by Tennessee Thunder
You tell,em Acroyear,my neighbors do the same especially when it,s drunk time in Sweden,the only way swedes can grow any balls is from a bottle of vodka,,I,ll smoke like the fuckin titanic if I want to.
08:12 January 14, 2011 by gplusa
If items 1 through 7 are expressing prohibited under the terms of the rental agreement then, YES, you can have money for dobbing them in. The guy is not asking for anything more than that tenants follow the rules clearly laid out in the rental agreement. Everyone knew the rules when they signed the agreement to rent. If they choose to ignore the rules, or they didn't understand the rules and still signed the agreement, then they deserved the punishment that their adult stupidity demands.
09:35 January 14, 2011 by EtoileBrilliant
The first sense to go when you start smoking is your sense of taste.

The second is your sense of smell.

The third is your sense of decency.

When will smokers realise that they are a health hazard to all those around them. My neighbour's smoke from the balcony goes straight into my daughter's bedroom.

The neighbour has just recovered from cancer yet she still inflicts her bad habits on others.
09:49 January 14, 2011 by landofthesheeple
Throwing some tennants to the snow, because they smoke is not going to happen.

Instead of evicting, which is a tough to fight in court, and it would seem tennants have more rights then the landlords, perhaps the management company could offer a discounted quit-smoking program to the offending smokers.

From what I have observed, most of the renters never follow the rules anyway, tex;

Tossing out furniture ie; beds/couches/book cases and TV sets in the trash sorting rooms, building fences past the allowable boundry of the back yards, teenagers drinking/rowdy and loitering in common areas after hours (10pm), driving their personal vehicles over the walking speed limit on access roads in row home dwellings, etc.

Smoking is quite a small thing to fuss about, people seem to have too much time on their hands to worry about this trivial BS : ) lol
10:58 January 14, 2011 by Wertyx
"The accepted practice when it comes to rental apartment is that tenants be allowed to smoke in their apartments. It doesn't help if it's simply written in the contract," he said.

An here you go: smokers are exempt from respecting a contract. For everything else, the tenant would slam the contract at you saying "it's written here and you agreed to it", and everyone would say he's right but not in this case. Why?
14:30 January 14, 2011 by woder
In England & have just had a couple who smoke move in next door - I'd love to see a complete ban but that would entail a change of leasehold (commonhold is rare here) so no luck. Problem is they are otherwise quiet neighbours but now our bathroom looks like a shrine with a candle burning to block out the stink - and standing by the lift means holding your breath until it arrives. Would like to see smoking & non smoking blocks built so you know when you rent or buy.
20:52 January 14, 2011 by U92
"The accepted practice when it comes to rental apartment is that tenants be allowed to smoke in their apartments. It doesn't help if it's simply written in the contract..."

Really? So where exactly are people who cannot or do not wish to be exposed to secondhand smoke and an increased risk of a preventable fire hazard supposed to live?

A big problem here in Canada, where this sort of thing CAN be enforced (albeit with difficulty) is that few people are willing to speak up, because smokers tend to bully and threaten anyone who does. This landlord has created an environment in which people are encouraged to speak up, benefiting both the landlord and the majority of the tenants. This landlord is a hero.

Protecting one's health and property from known hazards is a right. Convenient access to a recreational drug via a preferred delivery method is not. No one should ever have to choose between their health and safety versus a home. And it is wrong to protect those who create problems while prosecuting their victims. It appears that Sweden has a huge human rights problem when it comes to multi-unit housing.
21:24 January 14, 2011 by Acroyear
"I'll smoke like the fuckin titanic if I want to" What a perfect simile - thanks Tennessee Thunder!

"standing by the lift means holding your breath until it arrives" (woder)

Try standing by the lift where I live - burning rubber would IMPROVE the air!!!

I laugh at the above commentators getting so uptight about the supposed risk of fire (what, no smoke alarms in flats???) and imaginary health risks from the mere smell of cigarettes.

And then there's all those "rule followers" out there... very NorDIC(k)... Just because we're in Sweden doesn't mean we have to switch our autonomy and personal sense of judgement off.

Stress is the biggest killer. Get friendly with your neighbours. Learn how to communicate face to face. Stop rushing everywhere. Ease off with the judging of others. Pull a sickey now and then. Be kind to yourself and try smiling more often.

That'll do more to improve your quality of life than grassing up your neighbours for 30 pieces of silver.
04:34 January 15, 2011 by Aeidos
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15:33 January 15, 2011 by soultraveler3
I like this policy as well. If they signed a rental contract stating they aren't allowed to smoke but they do, kick them out.

The woman in the article saying it doesn't create a friendly enviroment has obivously never lived in an apartment in Sweden, where 99% of the tenants go out of their way to avoid having to speak to each other lol.

I wish they'd ban smoking all together in apartment blocks or do like someone else posted above and have certain blocks / houses deemed smoking or non-smoking. We have 2 smokers living underneath us and I can't even have the windows open all the time when it's nice out because their smoke goes right in my windows. Besides it stinking, I have allergies so it makes me feel ill. It also stinks in our bathroom and kitchen at times from the people below smoking, it must go through the pipes or something. :(

I know some, maybe most smokers will say deal with it or whatever but it's that exact attitude that got smoking banned from resturants and other public places. I've met a couple polite smokers who are actually concerned about the effect their smoking has on others around them but a majority of smokers just don't give a sh#t. They smoke right next to you when you're trying to eat, stand right by the door so you have to walk through it, flip ashes and butts everywhere etc. It's so gross. It's so bad and so many people smoke here that you can't even sit OUTSIDE at resturants and bars during the summer without coming home smelling like an ashtray. Most swedish resturants don't have air conditioning so you're screwed either way.

The manger of these apartments is doing a good thing.
21:23 January 15, 2011 by Acroyear
@ soultraveler3 "It's so bad and so many people smoke here that you can't even sit OUTSIDE at resturants and bars"

Where I live, so many people smoke both indoors and on their balconies that you can't even SEE outside - it's a permanent smoky fog enshrouding the whole building. The landlord can't see who's smoking, despite the best efforts of the fire brigade who come around occasionally to douse the place with water.

Our block attracts all those unsavoury elements (plus police, nurses, social workers, air traffic controllers and other stressed out people) who want a free nicotine fix so there's constant comings and goings all times of day and night.

The kids' sandpit in the yard contains more fagends than sand and the privately run preschool (situated in the basement) has been warned about health and safety because the kids keep going outside to smoke, unsupervised and fagbutts get into the mashed potato.

So cheer up and count your blessings, my friend!
19:24 January 17, 2011 by U92
Acroyear, thank you for demonstrating why it is necessary to legislate and enforce smoking behaviour. Smokers just don't get it. They not only want to dictate to the rest of us what they think we owe it to them to tolerate, but then they also want to dictate how they expect us to feel about it. And then they call US nazis, without catching even a glimpse of the irony.

I always love reading smokers' comments in discussions like this because they demonstrate why simply talking to them doesn't help.

For smokers who really want to put an end to smoking bans, instead of name-calling and lecturing us on what's good enough for us, why don't you try something new: amend your behaviour to make smoking bans unnecessary.
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