Strata 101: Smoking and Your Condo

(June 02, 2016 )

Can you smoke in your condo in BC?

smoking condo bc

The answer isn't so straightforward, because it all depends on your bylaws!

Since British Columbia has the lowest percentage of smokers (WTG, BC!) this is not that big a problem: only 9% of condo owners smoke, compared to 14% in the general population. But your ability to be comfortable in your own home – whether that means you want to smoke or you want to avoid smoke – means the world when shopping for a condo.

Let’s take a closer look at how smoking in condos is regulated in BC*. 

What does the government have to say about all this?

A few things! Smoking in condos is restricted in a number of ways, and the biggest, tallest golf-sized umbrella comes from the government. Smoking regulations fall under a few places, including The Common Law of Nuisance, the Strata Property Act, the Tobacco Control Act, and Human Rights Code. You can get some very detailed breakdowns of how these acts apply to smoking in condos here

There are areas in your building where you 100% cannot smoke, regardless of whether or not your bylaws ban it in your unit. These places include in elevators, hallways, parking garages, amenities rooms, and other common areas, like lobbies. 

This means no lighting up in your car as you drive out of the parkade, and no stress smoke while you check your mail for your credit card statement. There are also local bylaws about public smoking (how many metres in front of entranceways, etc.) that should be checked, as well. Usually 3 or 6 metres, give or take.

What about strata bylaws for smoking?

Aside from the government regulations, a strata corporation can pass bylaws to limit where owners smoke, or outright ban it. It's becoming more common for buildings to be smoke-free to ensure a healthy, fresh-smelling environment for all owners. Strata corporations can impose a legal ban on smoking on common property, limited common property, and in strata lots, through normal bylaw-passing means.

What about residents who smoked before the bylaws passed? 

It's tough beans for them. Unless a grandfather clause is included, the smoking ban applies to all owners, new and existing. Unlike bylaws for pet and age restrictions, the Strata Property Act doesn’t acknowledge any pre-existing rights for smokers.  All owners must comply with the ban. 

So there you have it. You can maybe, sometimes smoke in your condo or on your balcony or patio, and it all depends on the bylaws for your building. So read them carefully, pay attention to resolutions your strata is voting on, and comply or face fines! 

And remember: smoking decreases the value of your home, so if you’re part of that 8% -- consider taking it outside even if you’re legally able to smoke in your home. 

*Please note this info for strictly residential condo buildings, and this is 100% not legal advice. I have a degree, but it’s definitely not in law.