Legal issues when smoking in the home and apartment

There are an increasing number of complaints about homeowners or tenants who pollute their neighbourhood with smoke from cigarettes or, in summer, from barbecues and similar devices.

3 minutes of reading

However, there are also an increasing number of unauthorized denunciations that harass the proper users of their property. How to resolve these neighbour disputes and what does the law say?

The law states that the owner shall refrain from anything that causes waste, water, smoke, dust, gas, odour, light, shadow, noise, shocks and other similar effects (immissions) to intrude on the property of another owner (neighbour) to an extent that is unreasonable in relation to local conditions and substantially interferes with normal use. This applies both to privately owned dwellings and to cooperative dwellings or dwellings rented under a tenancy agreement.

But what does this mean in practice? Can’t I light a cigarette on the balcony or grill a few portions of neck meat on the terrace on a beautiful late summer day?

With barbecues, for example, it is important to be appropriate to the local conditions. During the summer months it is common to have the occasional barbecue, so there is no question of being unreasonable. However, if someone was grilling all the time, every day, and wafting the smell of burning meat into their neighbours’ windows, the claim should succeed. However, the regional health authorities are keeping their hands off cases of smoking or barbecuing on balconies.

Experts thus always prefer an agreement between neighbours. However, if the situation does not improve after an agreement, there is no choice but to file a nuisance abatement lawsuit. Here, the plaintiff would have to prove that, for example, the smoking neighbour is substantially interfering with the normal use of his flat. He would probably not be able to do so if the neighbour occasionally smokes a cigarette or a virgin on his balcony. However, if the neighbour smoked in such a way that the smell of smoke was often present in the affected neighbour’s flat, he could certainly succeed. Such a case was also recently dealt with by solicitors on our website.

The tenant has one more lever, and can use the provisions of his lease and the law. He can urge his landlord to allow him to properly exercise his tenancy rights. Otherwise, he could leave the apartment or ask for a rent reduction.

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If the neighbour continues to emit immissions after the court’s verdict, he may receive several fines of tens of thousands of crowns.

The lawsuit can of course be brought to ensure that no one smokes in excess in the common areas of the apartment building. In addition, the prohibition of smoking there may be regulated by the house rules, which are now a mandatory part of the statutes of the unit owners’ association. Violation of the house rules may, in certain circumstances, lead to termination of the lease.

Ask for advice on the problems that may arise from renting a flat or have a tailor-made tenancy agreement drawn up. You can also download a FREE sample tenancy agreement.

Download the free readable ebook for HOA and BD presidents and their members and avoid the legal risks that accompany managing your building.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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