Research clearly shows that smoking (including second-hand smoke) is a serious health concern. Health effects include lung cancer, asthma, respiratory diseases, and a host of other ailments. In particular, smoking is a concern in multi-unit structures where second-hand smoke travels through the building’s hallways, ventilation system, under doorways, and any unsealed area.
Most condominium corporations do not have any restrictions with regards to smoking in their By-Laws or Common Element Rules. And the New Brunswick Condominium Property Act (Chapter C-16.05) does not address smoking in condominiums. So, how can a condominium corporation facilitate change for a smoke-free building? The answer is to create a smoke-free building policy and include it in your condominium corporation’s documents. In New Brunswick, a smoke-free policy can be included in the Common Elements Rules.
But, in order to be enforceable, this may require a Declaration or By-Law amendment. And Declaration or By-Law amendments must first be approved by the Director of Condominiums and then registered in the Land Titles Office. But, there is a precise process to follow before the Board of Directors can make changes to any of the condominium corporation’s documents.
- Any changes require a General Meeting and a vote of the owners owning 60% (or greater percentage if defined by the condo corporation’s declaration), as required by the Act in section 43(1) and section 32(3).
- Professional advice is recommended to process the changes.
- The Director of Condominiums must approve the changes.
- The approved changes may need to be registered in the land titles office and if so, a fee of $85 (as of 2018) applies.
Once owners vote in favour of the change, the smoke-free policy can be added to the Common Element Rules. I say may require an amendment to the Declaration or By-Laws, as this can depend on when the condominium corporation was created. Older condominiums may have Declaration or By-Laws that require an amendment for Common Element Rules to be enforceable. Newer condominiums or those that have amended their governing documents probably have Common Element Rules attached as an addendum with a clause in their documents allowing for additions, changes, deletions or replacement of Common Element Rules. This applies to any Common Element Rules contained in Schedule A. In this case, Common Element Rules can be changed, added, or deleted without having to amend your documents and without having to pay the registration fee each time. But, changes always require a vote of the owners (Rule Number 1, above).
Keep in mind, that all condominium corporations are dynamic and can have individual needs. Some condominiums prefer to be completely pet-friendly, while others prefer to limit the number and/or types of pets. Some condominiums want to add amenities such as a pool, fitness facility, and BBQ, while others prefer to keep condominium fees down by eliminating these types of amenities and the associated maintenance costs. Changing your condominium’s documents keeps your condo current and can attract like-minded owners to your building.
For this reason, it is a good idea to consider a complete review of your corporation’s documents. When changes are processed through the Land Titles Office, there is a standard registration fee. Whether a condominium corporation makes a single change or makes a complete revision, the same registration fee applies. Need help with a review of your condominium documents? Condo-Link can help. We offer document reviews, have knowledge of what other condominiums have successfully amended, and can refer your corporation to knowledgable lawyers who handle document amendments.
For more information on how to make your condo smoke-free, contact Condo-Link Services. We offer information sessions on the process and can provide examples and options for your condo to consider. Call 506-206-2080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.