Condo, Strata and HOA News

Strata Fines Resident $25 for Smoking Creating “activities causing nuisance or hazard to others”

The only organization that should be fined for “causing nuisance … to others” should be the board of the Chelsea Gardens Strata Corporation for such a cowardly use of the by-laws.

The Chelsea Gardens Strata Corporation has been dealing with a series of complaints from a unit owner against their neighbour for smoking. It’s implied that the complaints arise mostly when the smoker is on their own patio, and the second-hand smoke drifts into the complainant’s unit. The complaints have been expressed to the corporation in 2009 and 2010, and recently they have been filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. It is scheduled for mediation in November 2011.

What I find interesting is the board’s response, at one point, to attempt to address the situation by fining the smoker $25 for breaking the by-laws though “activities causing nuisance or hazard to others.” The role of the board is in part to help the community live together in harmony and mediate the interaction of residents.

I can see how the board may have felt constrained – smoking is not an illegal activity, but they have a serious of complaints from an owner indicating that their health is being impaired by another resident. A $25 fine though seems ineffectual, token, and something that would cause more harm. It’s an action that seems to say to the complainant that the board is sympathetic to the complaint, but the amount of the fine indicates the response is toothless and meaningless. $25 will not pose a fiscal threat that encourages change in behaviour.

I would think that the board actually puts themselves in a more vulnerable role, especially given that smoking isn’t illegal, and they are regulating that activity. It’s a similar situation to those fatty carcinogenic plumes of bbq beef carcass smoke that fill my unit, issuing from several neighbours balconies and patios this summer.

When I buy into a condominium that allows pets, I assume that at least some of my neighbours will have pets and I will bump into them, sometimes on a daily basis. If I buy into a condominium that doesn’t outline in the by-laws a non-smoking policy on exclusive use common property (including balconies and patios), then I assume that some of my neighbours have the right to smoke there – and will take that right up.

For those that think that this comes from a smoker, I am a dedicated non-smoker. Euuugh – smoker breath.

2 responses to “Strata Fines Resident $25 for Smoking Creating “activities causing nuisance or hazard to others”

  1. Chelsea condominiums 18 August, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    this is really good step that the resident has been fined….and even though he doesn’t change..then the Corporation team may tell him to leave the unit..

  2. Michelle 29 August, 2011 at 9:40 am

    It is agreed that the $25 fine is ineffective. Recommending that home buyers opt for non-smoking condos or put up with the neighbours’ smoking is not always a feasible solution. How are the concerns of residents who moved into a condo strata prior to the creation of smoking by-laws addressed? Who is protecting their health? Are these non-smokers expected to move out? There is a limited supply of non-smoking residences available (example, the GTA, Ontario).

    Smokers are opting to take the habit outside to minimize the exposure of passive smoke to family members. This gives no consideration to the non-smoking neighbour who can’t open their window or who is subjected to the toxins when exiting or entering their unit.

    The smoking laws and Condominium Act need to expand the guidelines with reference to “smoking in common elements or in public spaces” so that those living in close proximity can enjoy a smoke-free lifestyle. New condominiums can be declared “smoke free” to include patios, balconies, and all common elements. It is not easy, if not impossible, to impose this rule on an existing condo corporation, which is most likely why the “nuisance or hazard” rule was cited. In time, it is hoped that this will change and look forward to reading case rulings exhibiting such.

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