No recourse over neighbour's second-hand smoke

No recourse over neighbour's second-hand smoke

The apartment above my family's unit was recently leased to an occupant who smokes at the balcony.

The smoke drifts into our home, endangering our health.

I raised the issue with the property's managing agent, which consulted the National Environment Agency. The response was that the occupant had the right to smoke in his apartment and there was nothing we could do about it.

The tenant's property agent told us the tenant had agreed to the landlord's condition to confine smoking to the balcony area. Otherwise, the tenant would have to bear the cost of chemical washing of the air-conditioners.

The tenant even suggested that I close my windows. Alternatively, I could choose to bear the costs of chemical washing of the air-conditioners should he smoke inside the apartment.

I do not seek to curtail anyone's right to smoke within his home, but it is another matter when second-hand smoke drifts into a neighbour's home.

I am certain this issue affects many residents in high-density HDB estates, condominiums and even landed property. There are long-term social and health-care implications if such issues cannot be resolved by the law.

A robust legislative and regulatory framework needs to be in place so aggrieved parties can seek legal redress speedily and at low cost.

Perhaps the authorities could look into this.

This article was first published on October 25, 2014.
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