RD Issues Unnumbered Letter Regarding Non-Smoking Properties

On December 29, 2010, the Rural Development Service issued an Unnumbered Letter outlining the policies that owners of RD assisted properties may put into place if they wish to ban smoking at RD assisted multifamily properties.

Owners may ban smoking in units, common area, and on the grounds of a property, or may choose to permit smoking in units but not in common areas. The Unnumbered Letter provides the following guidance for owners who wish to establish non-smoking policies.

Any non-smoking policies must be developed in accordance with State and local laws. Unless the owner completely bans smoking on the property, including in units, written policy should be developed addressing smoking in units, common areas, playground areas, areas near exterior windows or doors, and areas outside tenant units. Areas where smoking is permitted should be clearly designated with signage.

Owners who elect to take their properties non-smoking may not do the following:

1. Deny occupancy to any individual who smokes or to any individual who does not smoke who is otherwise eligible for admission;

2. Applicants may not be asked whether they or any member of their household smokes. However, applicants must be informed of any non-smoking requirements for a project. Owners may not maintain waiting lists specific to smoking or not smoking.


Owners may grandfather existing residents who smoke, as long as the rules relating to grandfathering are clearly outlined in the Occupancy Rules.

Owners interested in making Section 515 properties non-smoking should obtain a copy of the Unnumbered Letter.