How do I stop cigarette butts litter from neighbours upstairs?
Look Up Strata
19 September 2016

This question from a NSW resident concerning cigarette butts litter thrown onto their balcony. Thank you, Leanne Habib, Premium Strata for providing a response.

Question:
How do I stop cigarette butts litter from being dropped onto my balcony from neighbours upstairs?

I rent a small apartment in NSW. Like many apartments, my balcony is accessed via my living area.

For the past two years I have been facing the constant problem of people littering onto my balcony. Residents of higher apartments who overlook my balcony dump waste and cigarettes butts over their balustrades which end up in my outdoor area. Every week I have to clean up the mess.

It’s unmanageable! I have spoken to both my letting agent and the building owner, but have been unable to resolve the issue. What options do I have to stop this behaviour of the higher up neighbours and enjoy my balcony again?

Answer:
The butts pose a fire hazard (if not totally extinguished) and cause you nuisance. This is in breach of Section 117 of the strata legislation.

Assuming you have the Schedule 1 (standard by-laws), this behaviour from upstairs will be in breach of by-law 9 if the butts land not only on your balcony but also on some areas of the common property:

9 Depositing rubbish and other material on common property
An owner or occupier of a lot must not deposit or throw on the common property any rubbish, dirt, dust or other material likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot or of any person lawfully using the common property.

Additionally, the butts pose a fire hazard (if not totally extinguished) and cause you nuisance. This is in breach of Section 153 of the strata legislation:

Owners, occupiers and other persons not to create nuisance
153 Owners, occupiers and other persons not to create nuisance
(1)
An owner, mortgagee or covenant chargee in possession, tenant or occupier of a lot in a strata scheme must not:
 (a)
use or enjoy the lot, or permit the lot to be used or enjoyed, in a manner or for a purpose that causes a nuisance or hazard to the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not), or
 (b)
use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of the common property by the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the common property, or
 (c)
use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of any other lot by the occupier of the lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the lot.

As you are the lawful occupier of the lot, you would be an “interested” person and could pursue the matter through the Office of Fair Trading (Mediation) and NCAT.


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