Tips on Writing a Letter to the Property Owner or Management

 

Putting your concerns in writing helps document the issues and it shows that you are serious. GASP suggests starting with a letter written in a friendly and helpful tone that also expresses your concerns about tobacco-smoke coming into your unit.  It may help to include a letter from a physician, facts about secondhand smoke, why no-smoking policies are legal, and other information. Visit GASPÕs web site www.mysmokefreehousing.org for other resources and information.

 

Steps to Consider

Examples You May Borrow From.  Be original and use your own words!

Start on a positive note.  The manager or owner of you building probably gets a lot of different complaints, so start by explaining why you like your unit, the building, and any special services.

Dear _____________,

I enjoy living here because the building is located very near my job, is affordable, has lot of storage space, and is well designed.  Parking is convenient, the area is quiet, and the clubhouse helps me get some regular exercise.

What is the problem?  Explain the problem, but do not go into great detail yet.  If others are affected, be sure to mention that. Let them know you need their help.  Keep the letter as factual as possible and avoid emotional statements.

As much as I like this place, I and other residents are experiencing serious health problems due to tobacco smoke seeping into our apartments from adjoining apartments.  The situation has become intolerable and your assistance is needed to resolve the problem.

WhatÕs in it for them?  Write about the benefits of a smoke-free policy.

For additional talking points and facts to use, see GASPÕs Guide to Establishing Smoke-Free Policies in Multiunit Buildings.

 

 

This building and the health of all residents would benefit from instituting a no-smoking policy because:

 

1) A smoke-free building saves money by reducing the costs of cleaning and repairing carpets, fixtures, and window treatments; priming and painting walls; and general maintenance.  Lower insurance premiums are a possibility as well.  The cost for cleaning a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that has damage caused by smoking can run anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000.

 

2) At mysmokefreehousing.com there are more than 3,00O multiunit residential buildings in Colorado that have already established no-smoking policies in their entire building.  ColoradoÕs Clean Indoor Air Act section 25-14-206 (1) allows property owners or managers to make any part of their property non-smoking.  Section 25-14-204 (p) & (u) also requires that all indoor common areas be smoke-free.  Even project-based Section 8 buildings may make a building non-smoking, according to HUD.  

 

3) You will likely attract and retain residents.  In Colorado eight out of ten adults do not smoke, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  Even greater percentages of older citizens donÕt smoke, including 85.8% of people 55-64 years old and 91.4% of people 65 and older.

 

4) There is a market demand for smoke-free living. Surveys conducted in Colorado indicate that there is strong support for smoke-free policies. In addition, 85.4% of Colorado households reported having smoke-free home rules and eighty percent of adult smokers in Colorado want to quit smoking, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

 

5) Enforcement generally is not a problem. "Few owners experience backlash from residents after implementing and enforcing a no-smoking policy,Ó according to the National Apartment Association.

Explain your health symptoms.  Let the management know how secondhand smoke affects you, when you first noticed it, and what your doctor has told you.  Attach a letter from your physician if possible.

 

The fumes from tobacco smoke give me headaches, cause nausea and dizziness, aggravate my breathing, and affect my heart. I began noticing the fumes shortly after a new resident moved into the unit directly below me in October.  My doctor has prescribed some medications to reduce the pain, but has told me to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke because it impacts my health. A letter from my doctor is attached.

Are other residents affected?  If you have contacted other residents, mention how it affects them.  Some may not want their names mentioned, so check with them first.

Other residents are experiencing health problems as well due to tobacco smoke coming into their units.  For instance, one resident has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and allergic reactions to tobacco smoke. Another resident is nearly blind from macular degeneration — which tobacco smoke irritates severely.

Propose a solution that benefits everyone.

I understand your desire to be sensitive to the wishes and concerns of all residents who live here.  Therefore, I (and several other residents) ask that you consider conducting a survey to determine resident attitudes toward smoking, how many people smoke in their units, and the level of support for a smoke-free policy.  You might also consider convening a meeting to discuss this issue.

Ask for a response, and offer your assistance.

Let me also know if I can be of any assistance and how you plan to address this issue. At mysmokefreehousing.org you will find

¥ Tips on how to implement a policy

¥ Sample leases and resident surveys

¥ Enforcement tips, free signs, other Web resources

¥ HUD toolkits and memos

¥ Health information about secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke

End on a positive note.  It might be good to ask them to get back to you within a certain time frame.

Working together, we can make this building a better place for us all!

 

I look forward to hearing from you within the next two weeks.

 

Sincerely,

Consider having others review the letter before you send it.

 

Send copies to your local health department and other health groups.

Your letter may be taken more seriously.

At the bottom of the letter, indicate where copies are being sent.

CC:  Your local health department

Colorado Department of Health and Environment

Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP of Colorado)

Delivering the letter. To obtain proof that your letter was received use certified mail with a return receipt through the US Postal Service.

 

Response

If the response is positive, be sure to thank the management either by phone or by mail.  If there is no response within 30 days or if it is negative, then a second letter may be appropriate.  Be sure the response specifies how and when the situation will be addressed.

Did these tips help?

GASP of Colorado welcomes your feedback.  Let us know how well these tips worked and if your problem has been resolved.

 

Provided by GASP of Colorado

(Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution)

www.gaspforair.org

 

www.mysmokefreehousing.org

All the smoke-free housing resources you need under one roof.

 

This fact sheet is provided as a public service and is not intended as legal advice.

Please consult an attorney before implementing a smoke-free policy.

Updated February 2015