Asthma Information for Landlords
We spend about 90% of our time indoors, of that, about 65% is spent in our homes or apartments. That large percentage makes homes and apartments a place where people with asthma have the greatest exposure to triggers that can exacerbate asthma and cause an attack. As a landlord you have a responsibility to provide your tenants with housing that is clean, dry, pollutant and pest free, and comfortable. This means asthma triggers should be minimized whenever possible. Triggers vary from person to person and include:
- Dust/dust mites
- Pet dander
- Cigarette smoke
- Secondhand smoke
- Wood smoke
- Strong odors from chemicals, perfumes, even candles
- Strong emotions
- Cold weather
What can be done?
- Go Smoke-Free! One of the most important steps to reduce asthma triggers is to ban smoking in any rented apartment, mobile home, condominium, or house. Maine has made great strides to help landlords have the tools and resources to go Smoke-Free. For more information to make your properties Smoke-Free visit the Center for Tobacco Independence Policy web page to view Landlord Resources. Help tenants quit smoking by posting quitting resources in common areas like the laundry room. To get free quitting resources visit the Maine Prevention Store.
- Keep it Dry! Install exhaust fans in all bathrooms and above cook tops and stoves; be sure they vent outside. Do not use a humidifier unless medically recommended. Repair any leaks as soon as possible. Ensure good drainage around the buildings. Check the plumbing for leaks and repair if needed. Replace any drywall, carpeting, or flooring if it has been damaged by water. Review Maine Indoor Air Quality Council Recommendations for Dealing with a Mold/Moisture Problems in Rental Properties which can be found online at the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council website.
- No Pets or Pests allowed! Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, and any other furry or hairy animals have dander that is always present and difficult to remove even by vacuuming. Ban furry pets from rental properties unless they are medically necessary. Mice, rats, cockroaches and dust mites must be controlled. Often this requires cooperation between landlords and tenants. Tell tenants to notify you immediately if they see pests and work with tenants to solve pest problems immediately.
- Limit Strong Chemicals! If strong smelling cleaning chemicals need to be used, be sure the area is property ventilated. Try cleaning common areas during times when fewer people will be affected by the odor of the chemicals. Never mix chemicals, always follow manufacturers instruction. For more information on using chemicals inside buildings visit the Environmental Protection Agency's website.
- Keep it Comfortable! Summertime in Maine can be hazy, hot, and humid. On days like that people with asthma suffer worse than most and need to be in an air conditioned environment to help avoid an asthma attack. Be sure the air conditioning units are maintained, cleaned, and functioning properly. Cold air can also exacerbate asthma, in the winter months be sure the heating units are maintained, cleaned, and functioning properly. For more information on keeping rental units comfortable visit the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council's website.