What can I do if cigarette, cigar and marijuana smoke drifts into my unit from below? – Helen, QLD

For non-smokers, passive smoking is a great health concern. Smoke drift is a common complaint and especially problematic in body corporate community living due to the close proximity of living arrangements where the actions of owners and residents, naturally can have an impact on others around them.

You should note that smoking on private property is hard to restrict as every owner has the right to enjoy their property in their own way. However, there’s still hope – here’s what you can do:

  1. Communicate your concerns: The first step is to have an open conversation with your neighbours and tell them how their activities are affecting you. Often, communication can solve many neighbour problems.
  2. Refer to your by-laws: In most bodies corporate, the by-laws can define smoking related rules so that everyone can enjoy their property in the best possible way. If your neighbours are unaware of the by-laws, you can help them get familiar with them or take the help of your committee to make the by-laws clearer and accessible to all owners and residents. If your by-laws are unclear or unhelpful, you may discuss the option of adopting model by-laws and making clearer provisions and restrictions regarding smoke drift. This can be formalised in an AGM by passing a special resolution.
  3. Body corporate mediation: Your body corporate can designate certain parts of the common property as ‘smoking zone’ which can be away from residential areas and other common areas. They can put up signs and notices in these areas. If your neighbours are repeatedly breaching by-laws which clearly mandate smoking rules on common property, they can be served notices of breach or even fined, depending on how they’re breaching the by-laws.

Here is an article on by-laws you may find interesting. Also, you may wish to learn more about the impact of breaching body corporate property by-laws.