The following question regarding strong cooking smells from neighbours was submitted to our site from an ACT lot owner. Thank you to Jan Browne, Bridge Strata.
Question: The strong cooking smells from neighbours highly spiced food is coming into my apartment. What can I do about this?
I live in a 13 year old apartment block in the ACT. I’m on the third and top floor and above my ceiling space is the roof cavity.
My understanding is that the range hoods over the stove areas in my apartment and the apartments below extract the strong cooking smells from neighbours and pump the air directly into the roof cavity, rather than outside. There are no vents in the roof cavity or side of the building where these odours could disperse.
My problem is that the strong cooking smells from the apartment below is coming into my apartment. What can I do about this?
Answer: Rule #7: A unit owner must not use the unit or permit it to be used in a way that causes a nuisance or substantial annoyance to an owner, occupier or user of another unit.
Cooking smells in older complexes have become more of an issue in recent years with residents using additional and stronger spices etc. in their cooking. Without knowing the building requirements and the conditions of consent of the building, we cannot comment if the venting complies to the original approvals.
That said, exhaust fans should be vented to the external and not a common roof void. There are several reasons for this – some listed below:-
- Buildings should have a means of collecting or otherwise removing: cooking fumes and odours; steam from laundering, utensil washing, bathing and showering; odours from sanitary and waste storage spaces; poisonous or flammable fumes and gases
- Vented exhaust systems remove grease from the kitchen otherwise this grease will build up in a common roof space. Planning approval may have been given if roof space is adequately ventilated by open eaves or roof vents. It is important that no air seeps from the duct to other parts of the premises otherwise these areas could become grease-covered posing a significant fire hazard
Some premises may utilise Ductless hoods, also known as recirculating or un-vented hoods. These rely on active carbon charcoal filters that attract and capture odours before the air is expelled back into the kitchen. Not all Ductless hoods will eliminate the heat and humidity from the air, but rather filter grease and odours from the air. Residents will need to replace the filters every 6 months or so depending on usage.
The first step will be to approach the Executive Committee of the Owners Corporation (via the strata manager) about a report and recommendation on the current ducting system. The cost to do this will not be cheap but the cooking smells are creating a nuisance to a resident and the Owners Corporation should take some measures. Not to mention the possible fire risk. It would also depend if the Owners Corporation has changed their Rules otherwise Rule #7 would apply:-
- A unit owner must not use the unit or permit it to be used in a way that causes a nuisance or substantial annoyance to an owner, occupier or user of another unit.
This post appears in Strata News #103
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This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
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