Smoke has been drifting from the tenanted unit upstairs down to mine for seven years and they’ve been ignoring letters from owners corporation. What can I do? – Mark, VIC

Smoke drift is a common problem in owners corporation properties. However, its difficult to restrict smoking if the residents are doing so within their own property. Presently, there is no legislation in Victoria that prevents smoking in an individual’s unit. Owners corporations can make rules to restrict smoking in common areas, such as shared courtyards, corridors, etc. but these rules cannot be enforced within private properties.

We would recommend the following:

  1. The first step is to have an open conversation with the neighbour and express your concerns. You can even help them get familiar with the rules about smoking while on common property.
  2. If the tenants are ignoring your concerns, you may wish to speak with the owner or landlord to mediate matters. Owners can stipulate certain conditions in the tenancy agreement and ensure the tenants have a copy of the rules when they move in.
  3. You could notify your owners corporation manager who can then advise the owner directly to ensure that his/hers windows and doors are sealed.
  4. If the rules of smoking on common property are being repeatedly breached, your owners corporation can send notices of breach and take the matter to consumer affairs.
  5. If your rules are unclear about smoking related matters, you may formally put in a motion to amend them or outline certain specifications with the owners corporation in your annual general meeting (AGM). This can be finalised through special resolution and the amended rules should be registered with Land Use Victoria. You can get more information here about rules in an owners corporation.

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