Noise Complaints – What Are a Condominium Corporation’s Obligations?

In the case of Mermut v. York Region Standard Condominium Corporation No. 1381, the Applicant complained about noise coming from the unit above.  The alleged noise consisted of “banging, knocking, dropping, bouncing, rolling, hitting, striking, ‘thunking’, throwing of heavy objects onto the hard floors, dragging of furniture and motorized sounds” “at all hours of the day and night”.  Much of the sound was alleged to be attributable to a baby who was residing in the upper unit.

The Applicant also alleged that the condominium corporation and the landlord of the upper unit had “failed to meet their obligations pursuant to the corporation’s declaration and rules by not taking the necessary steps to thoroughly investigate and mitigate the unreasonable noise”.

The condominium corporation and landlord both asserted that they had met their obligations; and they argued that the continuing noise complaints were the result of the Applicant being overly sensitive to noise.

The Tribunal held that the noise was unreasonable (and in contravention of the corporation’s Declaration and Rules) and that both the condominium corporation and the landlord had failed to meet their obligations.

The Tribunal also offered the following helpful comments about the obligations of a condominium corporation in these situations:

As a condominium corporation, YRSCC 1381 has the responsibility to ensure unit owners comply with the Act and the governing documents. It is not permitted to simply “step out” of issues because they take the position that complaints may be frivolous or that someone may be sensitive to noise. They have a duty to adequately investigate complaints and work towards a resolution, which in this case is to address the issue of noise transmitting into the Applicant’s unit.

 I note that YRSCC 1381’s position in this case has seriously lacked consistency. Its evidence is contradictory as to incidents and positions taken both prior to and during the hearing. In review of the evidence, YRSCC 1381 has told the Applicant it believes their complaints about the noise, then determined that the complaints were frivolous and accused the Applicant of being sensitive to noise. Then on multiple occasions it said it would do acoustical testing and never followed through. It sent a letter to (the landlord) Dhir stating it had evidence and records that Dhir was not addressing the noise emanating from their unit, and then never followed through on threats of legal action because the noise complaints, in their opinion, were unsubstantiated. When the complaints did not stop, YRSCC 1381 told the parties it stepped out of the dispute and to deal with the issue by way of their legal representatives. Given the contradictory nature of YRSCC 1381’s evidence, I find it unreliable and does not support their position that they have met their obligations under the Act or its governing documents.

The Tribunal ordered the tenant of the upper unit to cease creating unreasonable noise; and ordered the condominium corporation and the landlord to take reasonable steps to ensure that the tenant met this obligation.

In terms of costs:  The Tribunal ordered the three Respondents (the tenant, the landord and the condominium corporation) to pay 60% of the Applicant’s legal costs for the CAT process plus the Applicant’s $200 filing fee.  Of these amounts, the condominium corporation was ordered to pay 60% and the tenant and landlord were each ordered to pay 20%.

This case contains a nice summary of the obligations of a condominium corporation when dealing with noise complaints.  In short, condominium corporations cannot ignore such complaints, but rather must reasonably investigate and then follow through with enforcement steps (as and when appropriate).

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