Sydney strata owner Amanda Reitzin joins me to share her recent experience in the NSW Tribunal battling nuisance smoke drift from her neighbour’s balcony.

Amanda shares how she made the difficult decision to litigate, including the lessons she learned along the way. You’ll hear:

  • Amanda’s realisation that the law is on your side, but it’s up to you to do the hard work
  • how staying polite and professional at all times is key
  • why litigation is not about winning
  • how Amanda’s life has changed since the Tribunal’s orders.
This is a must-listen for anyone involved in or considering legal proceedings.

Links mentioned:

5 Responses

  1. So many references to the not fit for purpose nature of the dispute resolution mechanism that involves NCAT.
    So many people must suffer in strata because they do not step out of their comfort zone or just plain can’t afford it.
    NCAT is not the place for lay people.
    Yet we have this daft objective in the “NCAT Act” in section 3 that leads us to believe it is far less formal and legalistic than it actually is.
    3 Objects of this Act
    “(d) to enable the Tribunal to resolve the real issues in proceedings justly, quickly, cheaply and with as little formality as possible, …”
    What a steaming pile of #&*% and just FYI I do not know of anybody trying to fix the problem of the fear, cost and stress that going to NCAT causes.
    I still advocate for an inquisitorial model. The adversarial model is an epic fail.

    How much did the respondents spend trying to defend this before it folded?
    What sort of brief would even try to defend this? Must have failed ethics.
    This is a huge read for consent orders.

    City folk are funny.
    Where I live we have the annual messages on the front notice board about people generating too much smoke because they burn wood in their log fire in the “solar village”. It is hideous some nights and it penetrates into the home. It is like there is a bush fire somewhere. It is not just wood. This is the hippie heartland and so, as one can expect, there is ‘pot smoke’ drift. Sometime the smell of pot is thick in the air.

    Not cigarette smoke but it is nuisance smoke drift for some.
    City folk have got it easy if all they need care about is some punter lighting up the occasional fag on the balcony.
    Do we let the hippies fill hundreds of acres with their wood fire smoke or do we let them shiver in the cold?

  2. Dear Amanda F and Amanda R
    Thank you so much for the podcast. Congratulations and well done on the outcome. Hopefully, it is now this case that allows John Minns and his team to make adjustments to S153 to make cigarette smoke drift totally and permanently eliminated from one strata lot into another lot and common property.

  3. Thanks for such an amazing and clear discussion on this issue! We have our bylaw in place (because I initiated it), but I wanted to hear your process and so listened to the podcast. What an aweful lot of heartache and stress you endured to get there, but get there you did. Your ability to articulate your feelings made it quite an emotional listen and I found myself saying a couple of unrepeatable phrases when your medical records were subpoenaed!!
    How did you go at your AGM in March – did you get the bylaw through?
    Thank you both for the encouragement of this podcast.

  4. Hey Jennifer, sadly the by-law was blocked for a second time by the usual suspects. I was disappointed but not surprised. The main thing is that I can finally enjoy my lot without breathing in my neighbour’s second-hand cigarette smoke all day which is a huge win in my books.

    1. Yep – I know that feeling. It’s always disappointing when you just don’t have the numbers and something sensible is blocked but, as you said, you’ve actually won where it counts. And over time ownerships may change and you may be able to get the by-law eventually passed. I’m so thankful ours passed unopposed. Our only smoker doesn’t attend meetings and is a very low-key discreet smoker who bothers no one. We used to have a nuisance smoker (who was also a nuisance dog owner, chronically late and overdue with strata levies, used foul language at high volume etc etc) however she sold up and moved 🙂
      So glad you got a really good outcome.

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