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Flat Chat

Smokers Snuffed Out

NB: See late breaking news at end of column

QUESTION 1: Can anything can be done about a neighbour across the hall who continually smokes cigars? The smoke permeates my apartment even though I have placed 'draught sausages' at the door.

It is so bad that the smoke alarms in the building have gone off and the fire brigade has arrived on two occasions. The Owners Corporation has charged the cost back to the owner. It makes the habit expensive but does not stop him from smoking. The same applies to incense. What can we do?
CD, Rose Bay

QUESTION 2: My new neighbour smokes as he enters and leaves the building so that the stairwell for the whole building reeks, despite the windows being open. Even worse, my flat stinks of smoke as it gets in under the door. None of my other neighbours smoke, so we are all getting tired of living with the smell (and potential health effects).

One of my neighbours thinks it's illegal to smoke in the common areas of a strata building, but the legislation says that because it's a security strata building (ie the public don't have access unless invited), then the legislation doesn't apply.
SK, Sydney

The answer to both questions is fundamentally the same. Forget the anti-smoking legislation - there will be provisions in your by-laws that prevent one resident causing a nuisance to others, and smoking them out would certainly qualify. Get a breach notice issued by the EC and follow that up via the Office of Fair Trading.

Meanwhile, to avoid future arguments, get a new by-law passed at a General Meeting forbidding: a) smoking on common property and b) allowing smoke to go on to common property or into another apartment. This is a commonsense rule that is seen as perfectly normal in modern buildings.

CD, however, may have a bigger problem if ventilation has been set up so that it draws air from one apartment into the other, as has occurred in some buildings. If so, it's probably a defect that should be rectified by the builder/developer or, if the building is more than six years old, by the Owners Corporation.


An owners corporation has won an appeal in favour of a CTTT ruling ordering two heavy smokers to stop smoking INSIDE their apartment because they couldn't guarantee that their smoke wouldn't go into neighbouring apartments (which it did). Smokers beware!

First published SMH February 2007