Smoking can be a contentious topic for many living in strata apartments. While everyone has a right to enjoy and relax in their home, cigarette smoke drifting into others’ property has caused plenty of tension and conflict between neighbours in the past. Luckily, the new 2016 strata law changes in NSW have made some moves to address this issue.
What are the changes?
As of November last year, the new NSW Strata Schemes Management Regulation introduces new model by-laws regarding smoking in strata. Notably, the Act now clarifies that cigarette smoke drifting and penetrating another person’s unit may be classed as a “nuisance or hazard” that “may interfere unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of the common property or another lot.” That distinction is important, as it can give strata schemes and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) more power to control and penalise problematic smoking. The two main changes within the new Regulation are as follows:
- Owners corporations can vote to ban smoking on common property
Depending on the specific motion, an owners corporation may vote to introduce one of the following rules:
- That smokers may smoke on their lot as long as they ensure their smoke does not penetrate any other lots or common property.
- That smokers may smoke on their lot and on common property (in designated areas or with written approval by the owners corporation), as long as they ensure their smoke does not penetrate to any other lot.
- That smokers may smoke on their lot ensuring their smoke does not penetrate any other space, but smoking on common areas is expressly prohibited.
- Owners corporations can vote to designate smoking areas on the property
One useful aspect brought into the model by-laws for NSW strata schemes enables owners corporations to vote in a decision to designate specific smoking areas on common property of the strata property. This could be welcome news for occupants of apartments that are situated right above areas regularly used for smoking.
If a strata scheme’s smoking by-laws are breached, a Notice to Comply may be issued by the owners corporation. Any repeat problems past this notice may be taken to NCAT with the potential for further fines or penalties. Keep in mind that these changes will need to be passed as by-laws at a general meeting within your strata scheme to be placed into effect, although strata schemes registered after the new Act will have some by-laws put in place automatically. For more information or to prepare a motion for your strata regarding smoking, contact your strata managers at Real Property Services on (02) 9960 4713 or send us a message.