Complaints about passive smoking have escalated in strata communities while residents are spending more time at home due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, according to a strata management group.
Archers the Strata Professionals partner Grant Mifsud said that the restrictions in response to the pandemic have proven to be a strain for apartment occupants with a rash of complaints about smoke from neighbours the latest issue to arise.
In some cases people using their balconies for dining and exercise were being affected by their neighbours in apartments above or below smoking on their balconies.
“With people spending more time at home due to COVID-19, we are hearing more complaints from residents who have smokers as neighbours,” he said.
Bodies corporate cannot prohibit smoking within the boundaries of an owner or resident’s property, which includes balconies and courtyards, as this is a perfectly legal activity within the confines of your home.
“However, residents should make all efforts to respectfully inform their neighbours when their smoke drift is adversely impacting day-to-day community living and work towards a compromise,” according to Mr Mifsud.
“The body corporate can regulate smoking in the shared areas such as hallways, foyers and common facilities within a strata complex by enforcement of an appropriate by-law.
“The bottom line is a body corporate cannot simply ban smoking in a scheme altogether, but it can regulate through its by-laws so that residents may not just smoke wherever they please.”
Archers encouraged residents affected by passive smoking to first approach their neighbours in person about the issue rather than fire off an email complaint or yell across balconies which can inflame the situation.
“We have often found that if neighbours talk to one another and find a middle ground the problem can be resolved,” he said.
“Letting your neighbour know you usually have breakfast on your balcony around 7am each morning and smoking drifts in when they are smoking at this time can resolve the issue they may be unaware of.”