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Couple awarded $8,000 for second-hand smoke complaint

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has awarded a Langley couple $8,000 in compensation for having to live with second-hand smoke at their condo complex.

The tribunal ruled that the condo strata pay the couple for “injury to their dignity and self respect” and for costs for an air conditioner and naturopathic treatments after having smoke waft into their condo from smokers living below them.

There are several other Langley residents with identical complaints who have filed with the Human Rights Tribunal and are waiting for their turn in front of the tribunal.

In 2008, Melanie and Matthew McDaniel moved into the third floor condo at 20245 53 Avenue and complained to their strata about cigarette smoke coming into their unit from the smokers below.

Melanie said she is severely allergic to cigarette smoke and perfumes and was six months pregnant at the time of moving there.

In their claim, they also said that Matthew is a type 1 diabetic and the second-hand smoke could be a risk of complications to his health.

The McDaniels submit that during the entire three years they owned their condo, they suffered continually and unnecessarily because of the conduct of other owners or tenants and because of the failure of the strata council to enforce its bylaws that indicated that residents couldn’t smoke on their patios (which are considered common space).

They say they experienced “frustration, anxiety and helplessness” and came to hate living in the complex. They requested to rent the place out but were refused and then ended up in foreclosure.

When they first complained to the strata, they were told to buy an air conditioner, which  they did in August. They also consulted SmokeFree and began keeping a log of the smoking situation. They asked their neighbours to call them when they were smoking so they could close their windows. The neighbours said they would but did not.

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