Helpful CAT Decision Regarding Noise and Costs

In the case of York Condominium Corporation No. 229 v. Rockson, the condominium corporation sought various orders because of the owner’s excessive noise (mainly loud music after 11 p.m.).

The CAT found that, despite numerous requests to stop, the owner repeatedly contravened Section 117 (2) of the Condominium Act, 1998 and the condominium corporation’s rules against unreasonable noise. The CAT ordered the owner to immediately comply.

The CAT declined to order the owner to install soundproofing in his unit or in neighboring units, because there wasn’t adequate evidence, at the time, as to what soundproofing might be necessary. However, the CAT warned that this sort of order might be possible if the owner’s violations continued. The Tribunal said:

Should YCC 229 be required to pursue further litigation to resolve the issue of noise emanating from his unit, he risks incurring not only the potentially significant cost and disruption of soundproofing should such an order be issued, but also being held liable for potentially substantial legal costs.

The CAT ordered the owner to pay pre-CAT costs (for the cost of a lawyer’s letter sent to the owner) as “compensation” pursuant to Section 1.44 of the Condominium Act.   

In addition, the CAT ordered the owner, pursuant to the CAT’s Rules, to pay the corporation’s full legal costs incurred for the CAT process (in addition to the Tribunal fees typically payable by the unsuccessful party).

The Tribunal said:

It would be neither reasonable nor fair if the owners whose quiet enjoyment of their premises was disrupted by what I can only describe as Mr. Rockson’s wilful refusal to comply with YCC 229’s noise rules were to be liable for the corporation’s cost of obtaining Mr. Rockson’s compliance.

In the circumstances of this case, I do not need to rely on the indemnification provision of the corporation’s rules.

The CAT also pointed out that all of the amounts owed by the owner would be added to the owner’s common expenses (and therefore collectible by lien) pursuant to Section 1.45 (2) of the Condominium Act.

In summary, the CAT was prepared to award full costs to the condominium corporation on the facts of this particular case, even without needing to rely upon an indemnification provision in the condominium’s governing documents. 

In my view, an indemnification provision is still helpful in many cases, because an indemnification provision confirms the understanding between owners in the condominium community that costs caused by one owner will be paid by that owner. But I think it’s also important for the condominium corporation to behave reasonably in its enforcement procedures – by sending reasonable warnings and by remaining willing to dialogue in an effort to resolve matters without litigation. 

In this case, a key factor was that the owner had shown no cooperation despite the reasonable enforcement efforts of the condominium corporation. This is the key passage in the decision:

In the case before me, Mr. Rockson received multiple notices between October 2019 and September 2021 advising him of the corporation’s noise rules and requesting his co-operation and compliance. Those included four letters from the corporation’s legal counsel. The legal letters advised him that the costs YCC 229 incurred to obtain his compliance would be payable in accordance with Section I of its rules and he was billed for the costs of producing three of the legal letters. However, he still continued to violate YCC 229’s noise rules with, as noted above in paragraph 7, an apparent escalation of the number of incidents after receipt of the September 16, 2021 legal letter. He did not participate in this proceeding although he was given multiple opportunities to do so. While there is some evidence in the security reports that Mr. Rockson co-operated by lowering the music volume when he was approached by security, this co-operation is negated by the fact that the behaviour was repeated and the complaints continued. Mr. Rockson’s actions indicate that he has little regard for his obligations as a condominium owner or his responsibilities as a neighbour in a condominium community.

In my view, this is a terrific decision. It shows that the CAT is willing to hold condominium owners responsible (including for costs) when the condominium corporation is reasonable and the owner is not. With the CAT’s expanded jurisdiction, and as condominium corporations therefore pursue more and more applications to the CAT, this is welcome news.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments on noise and costs!