trends in Brisbane property

The body corp Versus smokers

There’s a wind of change in the air for body corp rules, and this time it’s coming from the smoke blowing in from the next door apartment. You’re sitting on your balcony enjoying the view, or have simply drawn all your doors open to enjoy the balmy Brisbane summer evening. Then upstairs, next door or downstairs, someone lights up a cigarette.

Maybe they’re being considerate of their housemates, or complying with their landlord’s requirement to only smoke outside. Or just enjoying the same view you are. But now you’re sharing the cigarette, an unwilling passive smoker. And it’s this problem that’s got one group of Brisbane apartment owners on the path to banning smoking from their entire building.

You’ve read plenty about attempts to ban pets in apartments and an apparent legal trend confirming a body corp can’t unreasonably interfere in a lot owner’s life. So after this 25 lot building in West End adopts their new by-law (a fairly easy process) how will it stand up to a challenge?

The lot owner behind the push says this: “The difference between pets and smoking is that second hand smoke has been proven as a health hazard. People have the right to smoke, but that doesn’t mean the person next door’s health should suffer due to smoke drifting in through balcony doors or through air conditioning units – which is impossible to stop.”

It’s a fair point and you can read some of the arguments online.  So does the safety and health of neighbours override the civil liberties of a smoking occupant? Should this be left to a body corp to enforce (it’s easy to ignore a bylaw and hard for a body corp to pursue) or if it endangers lives do the police/law have a role? And while we’re going down this line of thought, what about houses? Many inner-city homes have windows and decks etc a lot closer together than many apartment doors.

One recent Canadian court case has caused some interest, with a body corp sued by a condo occupant who suffered second hand smoke for 3 years, and argued successfully (with compensation ordered) that the building’s law-makers should have done something to prevent the problem and protect the resident.

So what do you think? Have we all gone nuts trying to run our neighbours’ lives in apartment buildings? Should we learn to live with eachother a little better? Or is this a genuine issue that needs action and, if so, who should be taking up the cause and what’s reasonable? No smoking on balconies? No smoking with any windows open?

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