Condominium Corporation Too Slow in Attempting to Resolve Noise Problem
In the recent Court decision Wu v. Peel Condominium Corporation No. 245, a condominium corporation was found liable for oppression, on the grounds that it had failed to act with sufficient haste to address an owner’s complaints about noise from the elevators.
Ms. Wu bought a one-bedroom unit on the top floor of a 24-floor building in Toronto in 2008. The unit was adjacent to the building’s mechanical, elevator and HVAC equipment, which serviced the entire building. Approximately 6 months after she moved in, Ms. Wu first experienced noise and vibrations in her unit. She claimed that the noise sounded like a motorcycle or helicopter. Ms. Wu’s complaints to the condominium’s manager were many, varied and continuous from 2008 to 2014. The manager and the condominium board both agreed that the noise/vibration problem existed, although not as dramatically as Ms. Wu stated.
Beginning in 2009, the condominium hired consultants to investigate and recommend methods to resolve the problem. Some attempts were made to resolve the noise and vibration, but to no avail. In 2012, the condominium advised Ms. Wu that the condominium had “done as much as it could do” to solve the problem.
In 2013, Ms. Wu retained legal counsel and, following mediation, the condominium agreed to fix the problem. Although the condominium retained further consultants, the corporation failed to carry out any of the suggested actions to resolve the issue.
In 2014, Ms. Wu then commenced an action against the condominium for oppression and damages. She was successful. The Court held that while the condominium had attempted to address the noise and vibration problem from 2009 to 2011, it then stopped and took no further positive steps until shortly before the Court hearing. During this entire period, the problem continued. The Court held that this was oppressive to Ms. Wu.
The Court ordered that the condominium corporation continue to try to fix the problem using the recommendations provided by its consultants in 2014, prior to the Court hearing. The Court ordered that the condominium must appear before the same judge within 45 days to advise what could be done to attempt to resolve the problem. The Court also ordered that the corporation pay to Ms. Wu $30,000 in damages due to its oppression, as well as $20,000 towards Ms. Wu’s legal costs.
The message here is that a condominium corporation must take reasonable steps to address and deal with complaints from owners about common element problems. Anything less may result in a finding of oppression, and an award of damages, against the corporation.