Instilling a Fervent Wish for Smoke-free Housing – XXXIV
Today, standardized letters, forms, and templates are everywhere. Ask what the purpose of all these standardized forms might be, and a response is likely to be that they are fast and efficient when servicing thousands of clients.
Standardized forms do more than help us simplify gathering information, help us quickly focus and gather relevant information, and keep it precise and concise.
Standardized forms help us standardize results, help with quality assurance and create detail-rich content and histories for inspections and reports.
There are standardized forms and processes for doing claims through Residential Tenancy, Human Rights, and civil litigation.
However, there is no standardized information to present your claim. Just what information should you include in your claim through Residential Tenancy or Human Rights? Utilizing a standardized information document for doing claims relating specifically to secondhand smoke and smoke-free housing might help with standardizing results.
When I helped write up the original petition, I asked Sharon Hammond from Clean Air Coalition (Smoke-free Housing BC) what should go into such a document. She provided a list of headings, and we filled in the headings with our relevant histories.
Reviewing that document stands up to the test of time. So whether it is one person, or a group, following a template and headings makes sense and good practice.
Here, then, I outline a list of essential components to standardize your request for stopping secondhand smoke from infiltrating your home, with the goal of standardizing results, and unifying the smoke-free housing movement.
List of Essential Components
- This letter (application) asks for an order to stop the problem of secondhand smoke from infiltrating my home, pursuant to Section 32 and Section 28 of the Residential Tenancy Act addressing the health aspect and the interference of quiet enjoyment.'(This simple sentence is all that is required either on the Residential Tenancy Form, or as the first sentence in a letter.)
- Reference Section 32 (1) A landlord must provide and maintain residential property in a state of decoration and repair that
- The health standard established: There remains no safe level of secondhand smoke.
- Under the relevant housing Acts, landlords and owners have the authority to establish smoke-free housing. Exercising such authority is not discriminatory against smokers.
- Reference Section 28 A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment including, but not limited to, rights to the following:(d) use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference.
- Executive Summary
- Secondhand smoke is a known health hazard, containing thousands of chemicals, including those specific known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke has twice as much nicotine and tar as the smoke smokers inhale, and 5 times more carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that starves the body of oxygen. Secondhand smoke creates third-hand smoke because it settles on walls, tables, curtain, upholstery and carpets.
- People who do not smoke, and who are exposed to secondhand smoke on a constant and ongoing basis suffer serious and life-threatening health problems. People who do not smoke suffer from the effects of secondhand smoke with as little as 8-20 minutes' exposure, the equivalent of 1-2 cigarettes.
- My doctor's letter outlines the medical condition I suffer with, which is made worse through secondhand smoke. In addition, I suffer systems (list) directly resulting from secondhand smoke.
- I have contacted (list who you have contacted [police, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, BC Housing, Residential Tenancy, TRAC, and relevant health authorities]. I have done everything suggested, and everyone suggests that if management doesn't clean it up, to do a dispute resolution [human rights, nuisance] claim.
- I ask a ventilation and air quality inspection be done, and a report submitted in order to identify the sources of the problem. Also, this would include sniffer dogs being brought in. This way no one has to guess the source of the problem and be dismissed. In this way, I want the “responsible persons” which are management and owner to give us a firm policy with enforcement rules. I ask that there be no smoking in the building, and no marijuana smoking.
- I ask for financial reimbursement for costs resulting from: [list receipts and add up amounts; include the extra time you purposefully spend away from your suite as basis for reduction in rent).
- Background (Timelines and Lists of Documents)(Follow the dates and times of your activities, and allow dates and times, and letters (notes/memos), etc., to chronologically create the flow of your claim.)Example:
- I moved into suite #_____ at ________________________in ______ (year). I was born in 19___. I currently pay rent at $830/month as of August 2011. I receive from BC Housing SAFER program $112.34. I make my rent cheque payable to .
- The current manager began looking after the building (date).
- I have previously reported the problem of secondhand smoke drift as far back as (date).
- In October 2006, I reported the problem of secondhand smoke, and received no response. Subsequently, on October 24, 2006, I and two other tenants reported to management that secondhand smoke was infiltrating our apartments: #202, #203, #303.
- Extent of the problem, how second-hand smoke enters and moves throughout the building
- Health Impact and the range of symptoms people experience both physically and psychologically (doctor's letter(s).
- Financial Impact [to people on limited income] (list and receipts).
- Actions taken by tenants in an attempt to cope and resolve the health issues, and the issues of second-hand smoke in the building.
- Understanding of relevant law.(This references case law as it relates to Nuisance and Human Rights, and secondhand smoke. I reference Sannich vs Young 2003; Chiang v Yang 1999 and Raith v Coles 1984.)
- Possible solutions presented for immediate consideration.
(Under this section, you reference how often secondhand smoke infiltrates your home, hallways, and common areas, and how often you may be harassed because of asking a neighbor(s) to stop smoking indoors or on a balcony. The amount or “substantial” amount you establish remains a key component under the burden of proof. Important to map out the building and where the smokers live. Examine the ventilation system and extent to which it is working. At a minimum, smokers smoke 20 cigarettes per day. Do the math; let the math do the talking.)
This format standardizes letters and complaints, captures the chronological history, and leaves room to add the personalized information.
In relation to stopping secondhand smoke from infiltrating your home, and the smoke-free housing movement, this format standardizes the type and kind of information relevant, with the goal of achieving uniform standardized results....and provincial uniform standardized regulations: Smoke-free Housing Legislation!