Vancouver condo strata forced to pay $4,000 to owner for failing to investigate smoking complaints

A Surrey, British Columbia couple has been awarded $4,000 by a B.C. court following their condo strata failing to investigate complaints surrounding their neighbour’s smoking and air-freshener spray entering their unit. 

The province’s resolution tribunal ruled that Parkview Gardens failed its “duty to accommodate” unit owner Carol Cheslock’s disabilities, including allergies, asthma, other respiratory problems and an eye condition that required surgery. 

Cheslock said that the rampant cigarette, cannabis smoke and other odours from her neighbour worsened her condition.

“Mrs. Cheslock has a physical disability and provided medical notes stating the smoke and odours (were) aggravating her health conditions,” wrote tribunal vice-chairwoman Kate Campbell, according to the Vancouver Sun.  “Under the B.C. human rights code, the strata therefore had a duty to accommodate Mrs. Cheslock to the point of undue hardship.”

The resolution tribunal ruled that the “strata failed to enforce its no-smoking and nuisance bylaws, despite numerous complaints” and that it had “strata had a higher duty to investigate.”

Cheslock claims that the strata didn’t take her complaint seriously and that it was working with the owner of the offending unit to ensure “bylaws were not enforced.” In total, six letters featuring complaints were sent to the strata by Cheslock.

At one point, the strata sent letters to the culprit threatening a $50 fine if the pungent smells didn’t stop, but reversed the fine due to there being “no conclusive evidence of a bylaw breach.” 

In 2016, Vancouver’s human rights tribunal ruled in a similar case that a strata must call in an expert to investigate secondhand smoke and look into possible solutions regarding accommodating disabilities.

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