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How to deal with smoking neighbours


18 May 2021

There is nothing worse for non-smokers than inhaling the waft of second-hand smoke from someone’s cigarette. And it can seriously affect your lifestyle in apartment living, as well as your health.
 
Currently, Victorian laws only allow Owners Corporations to make rules that completely ban smoking in common areas such as shared courtyards. Smoke emanating from private property can be more difficult to control for the Owners Corporation.
 
As owners are still permitted to smoke on their private property and consequently, it can be difficult to rule against them even if their second-hand smoke is entering common property.
 
Notwithstanding, the Victorian Owners Corporation Regulations 2007 (Model Rule 1.1) stipulates “A lot owner or occupier must not use the lot, or permit it to be used, so as to cause a hazard to the health, safety and security of an owner, occupier, or user of another lot”.
 
On that basis, your Owners Corporation Manager could reasonably assess that any smoke emanating from private property has exposed you to second-hand smoke, which represents a health hazard to you and therefore placing the other owner in breach of this regulation.
 
The best process is to try to raise this issue with your neighbour and come to a resolution amicably.
 
If this fails or is not possible, check that your Owners Corporation rules contain Model Rule 1.1, then you may lodge a formal complaint with the Owners Corporation in relation to their alleged breach of the Model Rules.
 
Your complaint should be on a Formal Complaint form and outline the alleged breach, noting that your health is being negatively impacted.
 
You may also request that your Owners Corporation creates a specific rule about smoking within apartments. This will require a special resolution.