This issue affects landlords and tenants equally. Is it OK for tenants to smoke in their rental unit? Or just what is allowed, and what is prohibited?
Smoking is a lifestyle—at least it was at one time. And even if the public is largely aware of the dangers of smoking and its consequences, there are still people in Switzerland who enjoy reaching for a “coffin nail” on a regular basis. Is a tenant allowed to indulge in his passion—or his vice—within his own four walls? Smoking in your own apartment—this is one issue everyone has an opinion on.
A general smoking ban violates personal rights
In general, it is basically true that you can do what you want, as long as you are not breaking the law or making your neighbor feel restricted through your actions. Smoking in your own apartment is therefore basically allowed. A general smoking ban is viewed as being too great an interference with one’s personal rights.
But by the same token, this does not mean that smokers get a free pass
Banning smoking ban in rental apartments is therefore illegal—even if it is specified in the lease. Personal freedom to do what you want within your own four walls always takes precedence. At the same time, however, this should not give tenants a false sense of security so that they regard this as a free pass to be inconsiderate when smoking.
Tenants should be considerate of each other
Pursuant to Art. 257f (2) of the Swiss Code of Obligations, tenants are obligated to take other occupants in the building as well as neighbors into account. So, if you smoke at home—whether inside or outside on the balcony—the smoke, smell and ingredients emitted from your smoking should not overly bother your neighbors. Also, tenants must be careful that smoke does not find its way through an open door into the stairwell.
Please show some restraint when lighting up
It goes without saying that smoking is banned in common areas such as laundry rooms. Basically, all parties living on a property should take each other into consideration, especially to prevent disputes among neighbors. This applies to noise as well as smoke. So please exercise restraint when smoking at home.
Tenants are responsible for paying for any damage their smoking causes
It should also be noted that tenants have to pay for nicotine damage to walls and ceilings. Discoloration caused by smoking in the rented apartment is considered excessive and the landlord has the right to invoice the tenant for such damages when they move out. It is important to be aware that personal liability insurance does not cover damage caused by cigarette smoke.
Tenants are legally prohibited from conducting illegal activity in their apartment
Smoking cannabis, however, is a whole different ball game. Smoking marijuana is still punishable by law in Switzerland—except for smoking CBD grass. And according to the Tenant Association, it is illegal for any tenant to conduct illegal activity in his or her apartment. A tenant can be kicked out of their apartment if he or she continues to smoke or consume cannabis at home despite being warned not to.
So, the bottom line is that anyone who enjoys smoking a pipe, lighting up a cigar or puffing away on a cigarette at home is welcome to do so—as long as they are considerate of their neighbors.