Second-hand Smoke Complaint

Second-hand Smoke Compliant in Strata

Second-hand smoke can be a serious issue in a Strata complex. Smoke entering from neighbouring units constitutes not just a significant nuisance, but also a health risk.

More than a Nuisance

Second-hand smoke seeping into your strata unit from neighbouring units through walls, crawl spaces and light fixtures constitutes not just a significant nuisance, but also a health risk – second-hand smoke is a deadly toxin. The best way to resolve this problem is for a building to go smoke free by adopting a Non-Smoking Bylaw.

A Few Points to Keep in Mind

  • If you are suffering from second-hand smoke seeping into your strata unit, here are a few points to keep in mind:
  • A smoker cannot smoke within 3 metres of the doorways, open windows or air intakes that are connected to common areas (unless a greater distance is prescribed by local municipal bylaws). Some examples of common areas are the lobby, laundry area or hallways.
  • Your strata may already have a non-smoking policy or bylaw that further restricts smoking. Because of the hazards associated with second-hand smoke, many buildings are bringing in smoke-free policies – for more information on how to make your strata building smoke free, please see http://www.smokefreehousingbc.ca/
  • The Standard Bylaws for strata require that owners “not cause a nuisance to others” and you can ask your governing body to enforce this by-law provision

Strata Guides

The BC government publishes a number of strata guides that may be relevant here, including:

New Civil Resolution Tribunal

In the Fall of 2014 there will be a new “Civil Resolution Tribunal” in BC that will include dispute resolution for strata properties. The Tribunal will deal with disputes regarding uneven, arbitrary or non-enforcement of strata bylaws at a lot less cost and expense than going to the BC Supreme Court. The tribunal will encourage a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, with adjudication as a last resort. It will likely function largely online or with telephone hearings.

Human Rights

If the second-hand smoke is exacerbating a medical condition, you may have a human rights complaint – contact the BC Human Rights Coalition.

How to Proceed

Smoke Free Housing BC has a detailed five-page guide on the steps you can take as a strata owner to address second-hand smoke in your unit. It includes the following:

  • how to do the groundwork for your complaint
  • mitigating the impact of the smoke
  • notifying the Strata Corporation
  • last resort remedies

They also produce a guide on steps that your strata corporation can take which includes:

  • duty to act
  • investigating complaints
  • considering negotiated settlements
  • mandatory by-law enforcement procedures

 

NOTE – these are pdf documents – you will need Adobe Reader to view them. Get Adobe Reader

For more information, see

  • Legal Opinion on what owners can do to address unwanted second-hand smoke
  • Another Canadian Case Law Summary on Drifting Second-hand smoke in Multi-Unit Dwellings – From Non-Smokers Rights Association – 2009