• Industry

Strata scheme up in smoke


Inner-west smokers take note – as of April 2011, the body corporate of an Ashfield block of units in Sydney implemented a no-smoking law for anyone wanting to light up inside their apartment or on their balcony.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, the chairman said, “We asked our managers if we could have a by-law to ban all smoking in units as well as on common property and two weeks later they came back with a draft of a by-law to make the building a smoke-free zone in its entirety.”

But the body corporate now faces rebuttal. Those who smoke are in the clutches of addiction – one they should have the right to carry out in the comfort of their own homes. But what about the non-smokers? Smoke tends to waft throughout buildings, potentially affecting other occupants’ health.

So the moral battle begins. Building management is well aware that there aren’t any mandatory laws that prevent residents from sparking up in their own unit. Building management is also aware that there are existing laws that prohibit smoking on common property.

According to Section 6 of The Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000, a “smoke-free area means any enclosed public place.” But at this given point in time, cigarettes are legal and there aren’t any government laws stopping smoking in one’s home. So, the issue is presented to the body corporate: What happens to the non-smokers who would rather refrain from passive smoking?

Strata management company, Netstrata, has a few words of advice. If your apartment block is permeated by cigarette fumes and affects the enjoyment of residents, you can take the following steps to ameliorate the situation.

Firstly, you should approach your smoking neighbour about the matter. You don’t need to be a part of building management to flag the issue with them. Just remember to speak calmly and rationally. More often than not, your neighbour will be cooperative to resolve the issue.

Perhaps you’re not at ease with the idea of approaching the smoker, or if your neighbour isn’t flexible – what then? Your next step is to raise the issue with the building owner’s corporation. Hopefully a solution can be reached collectively.

If you would like further advice regarding smoking in your building, we encourage you to get the advice from the strata management experts, Netstrata.