Smoke, odour and fumes

Contributed by Anahita Surya and current to March 2022

What are my rights and responsibilities?

Excessive smoke from BBQs, fumes from painting and odour from uncollected rubbish may be deemed an environmental nuisance or harm under the Environment Protection Act 1997 (ACT). In the ACT, burning synthetic plastics, chemically treated wood, chemicals, unseasoned wood and garden or other waste is banned. Certain bonfires are also prohibited (Environment Protection Regulation 2005 (ACT) Division 2.3 and 2.4).

Resolving the issue in a friendly manner is best for all parties involved. If you need mediation support, contact the ACT Conflict Resolution Service on 6189 0590 (main office)for confidential and affordable assistance. If unsuccessful, you can make a formal complaint.

To talk to someone about your dispute, contact the Legal Aid ACT Helpline (9am to 4pm on weekdays) on 1300 654 314.

How do I lodge a complaint against my neighbour?

You can make a formal complaint by writing to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).The process of making this complaint is identical to that of lodging a light pollution complaint. Refer Light Pollution for more information.

Smoke/Odour/Fumes and Unit Title

Your owners corporation may have rules on air pollution. There is also a general duty for all unit occupiers to not cause nuisance or substantial annoyance. Excessive smoke/odour/fumes may constitute a breach. In this case, you are entitled to make an official complaint to your owners corporation. Alternatively, you can seek an order from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Unit Title Property (Strata) and Neighbourhood Disputes section provides more information on how to make a unit title dispute complaint.

The complaint avenues through the Environment Protection Authority are also available to unit title owners (see How do I lodge a complaint against my neighbour?)

Useful Resources

‘Air Pollution’ webpage, Access Canberra.

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