Big stink over varnish fumes

No sooner has the lingering aroma of Christmas dinners evaporated than we are off and running with a dispute over smells that has neighbours fuming.

Ambrosis wrote to the Flat Chat Forum that they were having trouble with a neighbour who complained about the fumes from re-sealed floorboards.  While accepting a nice bottle of red by way of apology, she later presented a bill for $530 to cover the cost of three nights in a hotel to avoid the smell and dry cleaning her clothes.

“Apart from anything else, friends slept on the freshly varnished floors two days after her complaint who and they had no problem with the smell,” says Ambrosis, who adds that they had alerted all their neighbours to the fact they were varnishing the floor.

No receipts had been proferred so Ambrosis ignored the demand, but four weeks later got another letter from the neighbour asking for $600 this time, saying the problem “would not go away” until she’d been paid and stating she had a medical certificate due to “varnish poisoning”.

A week later, a third letter arrived demanding $700 and warning she had made applications to the CTTT regarding the dispute. Ambrosis has sought legal advice and feels pretty confident – the strata manager says no by-law was breached – but wondered what Flatchatters thought about this storm in a paint pot.

The response has been two-fold but unambiguous – yes, the smell of varnish and paint can be very unpleasant but escalating demands for compensation are not on.

“The neighbour is trying it on, what a load of twaddle,” writes ScotlandX.  “What would they do if the common property walls were painted? You have done nothing wrong.”

However, he does go on to describe his own very unpleasant experience with someone varnishing their floor in a unit in his block.

Which raises an issue for all strata dwellers – because we literally live on top of each other, should our by-laws insist on the use of low or no-irritant paints and varnishes?

The whole unvarnished saga and reader responses can be found HERE.  And you can find some interesting information on non-toxic varnishes and paints HERE and HERE.


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