Second-hand Smoke Complaint
Second-hand Smoke Compliant in Strata
Second-hand smoke can be a serious issue in a Strata complex. Smoke entering from neighbouring units constitutes not just a significant nuisance, but also a health risk.
More than a Nuisance
Second-hand smoke seeping into your strata unit from neighbouring units through walls, crawl spaces and light fixtures constitutes not just a significant nuisance, but also a health risk – second-hand smoke is a deadly toxin. The best way to resolve this problem is for a building to go smoke free by adopting a Non-Smoking Bylaw.
A Few Points to Keep in Mind
- If you are suffering from second-hand smoke seeping into your strata unit, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- A smoker cannot smoke within 3 metres of the doorways, open windows or air intakes that are connected to common areas (unless a greater distance is prescribed by local municipal bylaws). Some examples of common areas are the lobby, laundry area or hallways.
- Your strata may already have a non-smoking policy or bylaw that further restricts smoking. Because of the hazards associated with second-hand smoke, many buildings are bringing in smoke-free policies – for more information on how to make your strata building smoke free, please see http://www.smokefreehousingbc.ca/
- The Standard Bylaws for strata require that owners “not cause a nuisance to others” and you can ask your governing body to enforce this by-law provision
The BC government publishes a number of strata guides that may be relevant here, including:
New Civil Resolution Tribunal
In the Fall of 2014 there will be a new “Civil Resolution Tribunal” in BC that will include dispute resolution for strata properties. The Tribunal will deal with disputes regarding uneven, arbitrary or non-enforcement of strata bylaws at a lot less cost and expense than going to the BC Supreme Court. The tribunal will encourage a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, with adjudication as a last resort. It will likely function largely online or with telephone hearings.
If the second-hand smoke is exacerbating a medical condition, you may have a human rights complaint – contact the BC Human Rights Coalition.
How to Proceed
Smoke Free Housing BC has a detailed five-page guide on the steps you can take as a strata owner to address second-hand smoke in your unit. It includes the following:
- how to do the groundwork for your complaint
- mitigating the impact of the smoke
- notifying the Strata Corporation
- last resort remedies
They also produce a guide on steps that your strata corporation can take which includes:
- duty to act
- investigating complaints
- considering negotiated settlements
- mandatory by-law enforcement procedures
NOTE – these are pdf documents – you will need Adobe Reader to view them. Get Adobe Reader
For more information, see
- Info for Strata Owners – why go smoke free from Smoke-Free Housing BC
- Case Law Summaries on second-hand smoke in multi-unit dwellings from Smoke-Free Housing BC
- Legal Opinion on what owners can do to address unwanted second-hand smoke
- Another Canadian Case Law Summary on Drifting Second-hand smoke in Multi-Unit Dwellings – From Non-Smokers Rights Association – 2009