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Barbecue smoke ban just hot air

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So smoke from barbecues on high-rise balconies is about to be banned under NSW’s proposed new strata laws? What a load of baloney!

The law has long forbidden people from causing a nuisance to other residents. Cigarette smoking has even been banned from INSIDE apartments when neighbours have been adversely affected. The proposed changes to strata law make very little difference

Smoke from cigarettes is a legally defined hazard – we know that because we are not allowed by law to smoke in offices, restaurants or even, ironically, outside the entrance doorways of apartment blocks.

Smoke and smell from barbecues can be disgusting and, according to many scientists, carries cancer causing compounds, but it is not even mentioned in the new laws.

Fair Trading’s policy wonks insist that “smoke from smoking” – the phrase used in the strata Bill currently before Parliament –  means all smoke, including incense and, yes, barbecues. Really? They also claimed there was no clear-cut reference to barbecues because “it would exclude other causes of smoke”.

Yeah, and I came up the harbour on a bike.

In any case, they say, the real thrust will be in the proposed new standard by-laws. There, “smoke drift” will be defined as a possible hazard.

It’s true that owners in most new buildings will blindly adopt the standard by-laws and, meanwhile, the Tribunal (NCAT) will be instructed that smoke drift is a bona fide basis for a complaint.

However, by-laws are optional, agreed on collectively by the owners.  Anyone can stand up at the initial AGM of a new strata block and suggest they exclude barbecue smoke as a defined nuisance and the owners can vote accordingly.

Then there are the 75,000 existing strata schemes in NSW that already have their own by-laws. OK, every scheme must review them within a year of the Act coming into force next July, but they don’t need to change a word.

More than 50 percent of apartments are owned by investors – the smoke from their tenants’ barbies isn’t going to affect them, but an effective BBQ ban might affect their rental potential.

Coincidentally, my building recently removed references to barbecue smoke from its by-laws, claiming it was too hard to tell where it was coming from.

By the way, many schemes have by-laws banning barbecues completely for the simple reason that they stink out other apartments and have the potential to fill them with health-threatening smoke.

There are also existing laws in place that can prevent people from polluting their neighbours apartments with smoke.  So really, nothing has changed.

Why then, you have to ask, was the media fed a highly dubious line about burning sausages as the major element of far-reaching, society changing strata law reforms?

Could it have been a smokescreen to cover what sounds like a serious bust-up in the Liberal party over the forced sales legislations that will see 75 percent of owners able to sell their building to developers against the wishes of the other 25%?

It puts the distractions of “bread and circuses” in a whole new light.

 

So stand by your barbies – your “right” to stink out your neighbours’ homes isn’t really under threat. There’s a lot more on this on flat-chat.com.au/forum.

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