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Second-hand smoke in rental units

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What can you do when second-hand smoke is getting into your home from a neighbouring unit?

Along with being a health concern, second- hand smoke can be a nuisance. While you may have different options for dealing with it, as a first step, think about speaking to your neighbour or landlord if second-hand smoke is bothering you in your home or common area.

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 1994 bans smoking in common areas, in apartment buildings or condominiums. This includes elevators, stairwells, hallways, parking garages, laundry facilities, lobbies, exercise areas and party or entertainment rooms.

While the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 does not address smoking directly, it does equip landlords and tenants with tools to tackle second-hand smoke where they can show that it has greatly interfered with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential building.

Tenants

Your neighbours can smoke in their private homes, unless they signed an agreement, lease or there are condominium bylaws that say otherwise. If you live in a building where smoking is allowed, and second-hand smoke from another unit is interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of your home, speak to your landlord. He or she may be able to fix the problem with a simple conversation or repair to your unit.

However, if your landlord does not resolve the issue, you can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board. You will be asked to show how the other tenant’s smoking is clearly interfering with your reasonable enjoyment. Each application is determined by the Board on a case-by-case basis.

Landlords

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 a landlord may apply to evict a tenant for interfering with reasonable enjoyment or for seriously impairing safety. Both of these situations may apply if another tenant’s smoking causes you a problem.

Also, landlords and condominium corporations can ban smoking in new rental agreements or leases and bylaws.

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