“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.
“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.