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How to Deal with a Roommate That's a Smoker

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Living with roommates can be stressful--when you live with someone, dealing with disagreements is uncomfortable and awkward. However, when your roommate's habits intrude on your life and well-being, it is important to address your concerns. If you have a roommate that smokes, read on for tips on how to effectively handle the problem and come to an agreement.

Talk about it

The first step to address any roommate problem is opening up a friendly dialogue about the issue. If you didn't discuss the smoking issue before you moved in with your roommate, he or she may not be aware that it bothers you. However, if your roommate did agree to not smoke before moving in and is still doing so, you have a right to be angry. Just remember that being diplomatic and calm will help you effectively reach a resolution with your roommate.

Sit down with your roommate and explain why the smoking is troublesome, and let him or her know that you would like to keep your space smoke-free. Important factors to mention include:
  • The smell. Cigarettes leave behind an overpowering odor that can be nearly impossible to eliminate and makes many people feel sick.
  • The health hazard. Secondhand smoke contains carcinogens and may contribute to asthma, cancer and emphysema.
  • The mess. Cigarettes often cause an unsightly home--ashes, burns and discoloration can ruin your furniture, carpets, and curtains.

Refer to the lease

Does your lease have a no-smoking clause? If your roommate is violating a policy illustrated in the lease, you have a stronger case. Point out the rule in your lease regarding smoking indoors and let your roommate know you will have to consult the landlord if he or she doesn't kick the habit. Your roommate's smoking could be a liability for you, too--if your landlord finds out, you may both find yourselves evicted.

Offer a compromise

If your roommate is defiant about his or her smoking privileges, try to think of a compromise that will keep you both happy. Do you have a balcony? Suggest that your roommate keep smoke breaks outside. If you don't have a private outdoor area, perhaps you would consider permitting your roommate to smoke only in his or her bedroom, out an open window. Negotiate a mutual agreement that you both can live with--at least until your lease is up.

Try to eliminate the smoke

If you can't seem to reach an agreement with your roommate and he or she is not n violation of the lease, you may have to tolerate the problem until you are able to move out. In the mean time, try to eliminate the smoke and unpleasant odor as best you can with these tips:
  • Open the windows. Air out the apartment as much as possible by keeping windows or balcony doors open. If you do this often enough in the cold weather, your roommate may be a little more inclined to keep smoking to a minimum.
  • Clean the carpets, furniture, and drapes. Cigarette smoke clings to everything--particularly fabric. Use odor-eliminating products and cleansers to reduce the scent on your furniture, curtains, and carpets. Check your lease to find out if your landlord is responsible for any cleaning costs related to smoking tenants--if so, you may opt to hire professionals to clean your apartment.
  • Use an air purifier. An air purifier works well to cleanse the air of unpleasant odors. Keep it in the room you use most often--or the room your roommate smokes in the most. You should also consider asking him or her to chip in for the cost of the purifier as a compromise.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on April 8, 2013

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