I’m concerned with smoke drifting from the unit below mine from the balcony. We have no by-laws and I’m renting the apartment. What are my right? – Josh, NSW

I have someone below my unit who regularly smokes on his balcony. There is no bylaws and I am renting this unit. I’ve asked him to not smoke on the balcony as it’s smelling out my flat and impacting my quality of life. What are my rights here?

– Josh, NSW

It depends on where your neighbours are when they’re smoking. If they’re smoking on their own private balcony, it’s hard to restrict them from smoking as all owners have a right to enjoy their property in their own way. If they’re doing so on common property or shared areas, you may approach the owners corporation to mediate matters or put up signs to restrict smoking.

If an open conversation with your neighbour is not helping, you may take the help of your landlord/owners and they can also take the help of the owners corporation to mediate matters or make the by-laws accessible to all residents.

Smoking is a common problem with strata living, so ideally there should be by-laws and rules on the matter. If your by-laws do not have the necessary guidelines and restrictions regarding smoking on common property, your landlord/owner may file a motion in the next general meeting so the owners corporation can work towards defining or amending the by-laws. They can also choose to adopt model by-laws on smoking related matters and modify them to specifically suit your property type and its owners and residents. The new by-laws can be formalised in your next AGM by passing a special resolution and registering them with the state.

Breaching strata by-laws can be harder, and if your neighbours continue to breach them after multiple notices of breach sent by your owners corporation, they can then be penalised or fined. Here is an article that may interest you.