My next door tenant neighbour smokes even though they’ve been told not to smoke indoors but on the balcony. Is there anything I can do as an owner? – Judith, QLD

Smoke drift is my problem. I live in a group of 36 Villas, some of which are holiday let, some tenanted and some owner occupied. I am an owner, and next door to the left is a tenant who smokes. They are told not to smoke indoors but to smoke on the balcony, which means we have to keep our doors and windows closed. We live in the tropics, and having the doors and windows closed means we must run the air conditioners, adding to our costs. We have spoken to the tenants, but they just say they have been told to smoke on the balcony. The body corporate do not have the power to compel them to not smoke outdoors, but the owners of the rental property seem to have the power to compel them to smoke outdoors where it impacts on my peaceful enjoyment of my property. Unless anything has changed regarding the smoke drift laws, I don’t think there is anything we can do. What are my options?

– Judith, QLD

Smoke drift is a common problem in body corporate living. This is difficult to control because every owner has the right to enjoy their property in their own way. While they have this right, it is important for owners and residents to be mindful of other’s right to peaceful enjoyment of their property as well.

Here is what you can do:

  1. You should first confirm where they are standing when they’re smoking – if the balcony they’re smoking on is private property or common property and if it is covered by exclusive-use by-laws.
  2. If the tenants or guests are being insensitive to your requests or are breaching by-laws, you may speak with the owners or landlords to see if a compromise can be reached through the tenancy agreement they may have in place. The landlord has is responsible for the conduct of their tenants and short term holidays lets and should take care to provide them with a copy of the by-laws and rules so they know what’s acceptable in the body corporate property.
  3. Your committee can put up signs and notices to demarcate public and common areas clarifying where smoking may or may not be permitted. They can also take action if there is a direct by-law breach and send warning letters or notice of contravention for repeat breaches
  4. If your by-laws are insufficient or unclear on smoke drift related issues, you may file a motion with your committee in a general meeting and discuss the need for amending them in your next AGM. If you have majority owners support, by-laws can be amended through a special resolution.

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