Smoking, Human Rights and Condo No Smoking Rules

July 2017

The courts have made it clear that condo corporation no-smoking condo rules and bylaws are valid and enforceable.

Two recent cases have reaffirmed the right of condo corporations to implement and enforce no-smoking rules in condo suites.

In British Columbia a condo owner refused to abide by a no-smoking bylaw.  He argued that smoking is a disability that the condo corporation had to accommodate.  Residents complained of health risks from second-hand smoke, foul odours, fire risks and negative impact on property values.  The court ruled that a smoking bylaw is valid and that residents have a “reasonable expectation” that it be consistently enforced.

A recent Ontario case involving tenants in a condo suite was equally clear.  In this case a tenant in a rented condo suite refused to stop smoking.  The lease was clear that tenants were required to abide by condo corporation rules and regulations, and that the tenant had agreed not to smoke in the suite.

Neighbours began complaining about the smell of tobacco shortly after the tenants moved in.  The corporation advised the condo owner who advised the tenants of these complaints and instructed them to refrain from smoking in the suite.  The tenants ignored this direction and continued to smoke.  The condo owner then applied to the Landlord and Tenant Board for early termination of the lease.

The condo corporation took both the suite owner and tenants to court seeking compliance.  The judge ruled that the condo corporation has a right take reasonable steps seeking compliance.  The judge also ruled that the condo owner had taken reasonable steps to ensure compliance, and the condo corporation must advise the owner of the problem and allow them a reasonable opportunity to resolve it.

The tenants were ordered to pay $20,000 to the condo corporation and condo owner.  The condo corporation was deemed to have not given the condo owner sufficient time to remedy the problem and did not recover their costs for bringing this owner to court.

This ruling protects condo residents from owners and tenants who choose to ignore condo rules and bylaws.  It also encourages condo corporations to work with a condo owner to remedy a situation before relying on the courts.