Smoke-free social and community housing
Second-hand tobacco smoke causes cancer, and any level of exposure is unsafe. If you live in social or community housing, you have the right to a smoke-free environment.
The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 protects residents who are subject to smoke drift in their social or community housing units. Under the Act, your landlord, local Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing Office or community housing provider must ensure that neighbouring tenants do not interfere with your peace, comfort or privacy in using your residential premises.
Under the Act, tenants must not ‘cause or permit a nuisance’ (Part 3, Division 3, Section 51). Smoke drift can be classified as causing a nuisance and interfering with your personal peace and comfort – you may reference this Act when raising your concerns or pursuing a case.
For further information on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, go to the DCJ website.
Alternatively, if you are a community housing resident, please visit your provider’s office or website for more information.
Where is smoking allowed in social housing?
For residents of social housing, DCJ Housing does not allow smoking in internal common areas of their properties. These include community rooms, shared laundries, stairwells, hallways, entranceways, and lift areas. Smoking is allowed inside residential units, townhouses, villas or houses, and in any private courtyard or on their balcony.
Community Housing providers may have a different smoking policy so please visit your providers office or website for more information.
How do I address smoke drift in my unit?
1. Speak to your neighbour or person smoking
Ask the person/persons smoking politely to smoke somewhere that does not impact you. You can do this in person or by writing a letter. Be sure to explain how it impacts your health and wellbeing, and provide suggestions on where they can smoke where it won’t impact other people.
2. Report the issue to your housing provider
If you have tried speaking with the person smoking and the issue isn’t resolved, report it to DCJ through your Client Services Officer or local DCJ Housing Office. If you are a community housing resident, report the issue to your housing provider. You can do this by phone, face-to-face, or through DCJ or your community housing providers website.
3. Contact tenancy support services
For further advice and information, try contacting:
- Tenants’ Union Advice Line on 1800 251 101 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm)
- NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm)
- Your local Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service
4. Lodge a complaint with NCAT
If no action has been taken to address the smoke drift, the next step would be to lodge an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). NCAT deals with social housing tenancy disputes between social housing providers and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
When lodging a case with NCAT about smoke drift, it is important to have enough evidence to support your claim. Some tips and strategies include:
- Creating a log and recording the date and time the smoking is occurring, the person smoking (if known), where it is coming from and how it affects you.
- Asking your GP for a letter outlining the effects of second-hand smoke on your health and general well-being.