Condominium Corporation Failed to Properly Address Noise From Garbage Room

In the case of Wong v. TSCC 1918, the Applicant owned a unit that was “next door to the garbage room that contains a compactor and is the termination point of the garbage chute used by all of the condominium residents”.

The owner claimed that the condominium corporation had failed to properly address noise coming from the garbage room.

As has been confirmed in a number of previous Court cases, the Court in the Wong case again confirmed that the standard to be met by a condominium corporation in such cases is the standard of reasonableness. The Court said:

At the heart of this issue is whether TSCC 1918’s response to Wong’s years of complaints relating to the noise and vibrations she experiences in her Unit have been reasonable or, put another way, violate the reasonable expectations of Wong as a unit owner and constitutes a failure to repair common elements under the Act (the Condominium Act) or interferes with the quiet enjoyment of the Unit.

The Court held that the condominium corporation’s actions, since May of 2017, had been insufficient and oppressive to Ms Wong. The Court ordered the condominium corporation to pay damages to Ms Wong in the amount of $30,000 “to reflect the interference with the use and enjoyment of her unit as a result of the ongoing excessive noise and vibrations caused by the use of the garbage system”.

Some of the key factors considered by the Court were as follows:

• The Court said that owners in a condominium cannot expect absolute quiet; and Ms Wong in particular could not expect absolute quiet from the garbage room adjacent to her unit.

• However, in this case the condominium corporation had essentially acknowledged that the noise level (in Ms Wong’s unit) was not reasonable. The Court said: “….as of 2017 the Corporation had already been apprised of the problems for seven years and taken a few steps towards remediation”. The corporation had also accepted a proposal for additional work to further address the noise.

• However, the corporation had advised Ms Wong’s lawyer that the corporation would not take any further steps to address the noise issues “unless and until Wong rescinded this application”. The Court felt that this was “inappropriate”. The Court said:

This response suggests that the Corporation has engaged in reprisal against Wong in light of her decision to start this proceeding and is an unacceptable response.

In my view, some key takeaways from this case are as follows:

  1. When an owner makes a complaint about noise, the Board’s primary goal is to reasonably assess the complaint (with the assistance of experts, where appropriate), and to arrive at a fair and reasoned conclusion about what may be needed to address the complaint.
  2. If the complaint results in a Court process, the corporation must not let this affect the primary goal; and should not demand that the complainant withdraw the Court Application as a pre-condition to a proper resolution.

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