A Case About Unreasonable Noise From Children

In the case of Peel Condominium Corporation No. 312 v. Singh, the residents of one of the units complained about thumping and running noises coming from the unit above. They were particularly bothered by the intermittent sound of running and thumping after 10:30 pm, which was waking them up.

The owner of the unit above, Mr. Singh, acknowledged the sounds, but claimed that there was no unreasonable noise but rather only “the normal sounds of a young family in their daily activities”. Mr. Singh argued that the residents below were obligated to tolerate the sounds and that the complaints amounted to discrimination against Mr. Singh on the basis of family status.

The Tribunal held that the sounds, in this case, went beyond what could be considered reasonable, and ordered Mr. Singh to take the following steps:

a.       Install appropriately sized carpets or rugs in the living areas of his unit, including any hallways;

b.        Install sound reducing underlay with a minimum rating of 20 decibels; and

c.        Restrict his children’s play activities from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am each day.

The Tribunal’s decision included the following findings:

I conclude that Mr. Singh has not established that he is being discriminated against based on his family status. The governing documents of PCC 312 are not on their face discriminatory nor are they being applied in an arbitrary or discriminatory way. I am not persuaded, on the evidence before me, that Mr. Singh is being harassed by the enforcement measures taken by PCC 312.

An accommodation for the noise of children is a statutory requirement under the Human Rights Code. An allowance for the noise of children, on the other hand, is a matter of common sense and consideration.

In the present case, Ms. Doole and her co-owner (the residents of the lower unit) have had their sleep disrupted by the noise and vibration from Mr. Singh’s unit on 14 occasions over a three-month period. During the day, there is frequent noise which Ms. Doole reports as excessive and sustained. These are not trivial interferences. I find that the noise from Mr. Singh’s unit is unreasonable and constitutes a nuisance under subparagraph 117(2)(a), a vibration nuisance under subparagraph 117(2)(b) of the Act and section 26 of Regulation 48/01 and a violation of section 13(a) of the PCC 312 Declaration and its Rules 9 and 14.

Our reading of this decision is as follows: 

The Courts and the CAT have confirmed, in a number of cases, that condominium residents must be accepting of normal or typical sounds and vibrations that can be expected in the particular type of building. In a residential highrise, this includes the normal or typical sounds that can be expected from children. Complaints about normal or typical sounds from children may amount to discrimination under the Human Rights Code on the basis of family status.

But condominium residents are not required to tolerate all sounds from children. In particular, they are not required to tolerate unreasonable / unusual sounds going beyond the types of sounds that one might typically or normally expect to hear from children.

In this case, the Tribunal held that the sounds caused by the children went beyond what one would consider reasonable and ordered the parent to make better efforts to reduce the sound experienced by other residents. 

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