Catching The Drift – New South Wales


One of the most popular articles we’ve written for the SSKB newsletter has been on smoking.

It is one of the vexed issues of our times – especially in strata communities where committees have to balance competing interests of occupiers who each have the right to the lawful enjoyment of their properties – and that includes having a smoke.

The conflict comes when the right of an occupier to be smoke free is impinged through ‘smoke drift’, frequently from cigarette smoke drifting across open balconies.

Legislation now in force in New South Wales regarding smoking in Owners Corporation is seen as the most far-reaching in the country.

Owners Corporations can pass rules to create a designated smoking area within common property.

Another significant change is the designation of smoke drift as a nuisance. Communities can adopt the model by-laws to include options for rules that would further restrict smoking. These rules state occupants must not create a nuisance or hazard or stop others enjoying the strata complex. If smoking is offending someone, the smoker could be taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and penalised.

The penalties for residents ignoring complaints are significant. The maximum fine is $1100 for the first offence and then $2200 for a second breach. The new legislation states that the fine is payable to the Owners Corporation, not to the government.

SSKB will continue to educate residents and lot owners on the effects of ‘smoke drift’ and their rights and obligations under the legislation. We are committed to helping foster a harmonious environment in strata communities.

In a recent example, SSKB helped to negotiate a compromise between a smoking resident and the Owners Corporation in Victoria, in which the resident agreed to only smoke indoors, and arranged the fitting of a waterproof seal to the balcony doors to reduce cigarette smoke seepage to other residents.

If you are unsure about the by-laws regulating smoking in your scheme, contact your Community Manager. They can outline for you the rules relevant to your individual scheme.



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