As of Jan. 1, all social housing in the Yukon is now smoke-free.
“We’ve adopted this policy because, from our standpoint as the landlord, it makes sense,” said Yukon Housing Corporation spokesperson Nathalie Ouellet.
“It reduces our maintenance costs, because it costs a lot more to repair a unit that’s been smoked in. It also reduces the fire risk, which is very important. And it protects our tenants, contractors and employees in the building from second-hand smoke.”
The policy change was first announced last May. From that point on, all new tenants were no longer allowed to smoke in their homes.
But existing tenants were given a grace period, giving them until the end of the year to get used to going outside for a cigarette.
Yukon Housing sent out a memo reminding these tenants of the change in late November.
There won’t be any checking up on tenants to make sure that everyone’s complying with the new rules, said Ouellet.
“We do have employees going in to do regular maintenance, so if it is obvious that somebody’s smoking then we’ll deal with it then.”
Based on the experiences of other jurisdictions, it’s usually neighbours who make complaints.
And if there are any complaints, it would be treated like any other violation of the lease.
Tenants would receive two written warnings first.
However, if they violate the lease a third time, the lease would be terminated and they’d be booted out of social housing.
Ouellet didn’t know if there had been any complaints or written warnings issued so far.
“From what we know, people have been complying.”
Yukon Housing received a lot of positive feedback about the policy change from tenants who were grateful they’d be able to live in a smoke-free environment.
It also received some negative feedback.
“The complaints that do come in are from smokers who are reluctant to change their habits,” said Ouellet.
“But they can still smoke, they just have to go outside.”
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