The legal way to deal with noisy neighbours in Canada

A noisy tenant can be a pain in your otherwise perfect rental lifestyle. It could be excessive noise from music, vacuuming or regular noise that comes through the ceiling because the tenant above removed the carpet. This can adversely affect your sleep, your job performance, your health and your emotional well-being. For a landlord, a noisy tenant might drive away quality tenants and give the building a bad reputation, affecting future rentals and income. Do not despair; there are ways to deal with noisy neighbours in Canada. Here’s what you need to do.

Check your local quiet hours Generally tenants are allowed to make reasonable noise during reasonable hours of the day. Check your local quiet hours by calling City Hall or checking online. There are usually city ordinances or by-laws that prohibit excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable levels of noise. For example, in Calgary, quiet hours are between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday. If your neighbours or tenants are making noise when prohibited by by-laws, police can be called. For noise outside of these quiet hours you can make an application to your local landlord and tenant board. In order to do so, the noise must be deemed unreasonable.

What does ‘unreasonable noise’ mean? Generally, take into consideration the level of noise, the frequency and whether steps can be taken to reduce the noise. Another factor will be demonstrating how the excessive noise affects you – and the effect this has. For example, in a case called The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 4555 v. Chan, (it’s a condominium case, but applicable), loud piano playing was considered an excessive and unreasonable noise; however, once sleepers were installed into the piano to minimize the noise, the court decided that it was a reasonable noise level even though the noise had not been completely eliminated. Another example could be loud footsteps from neighbours above you due to wood flooring. In a situation like this, the noise could be brought down to a reasonable level by the purchase of a rug by the noisy tenant. Quite often there are rules for the building, like ensuring wood floors are covered.

Check this before you rent.

Make sure you collect proof Remember, you have to prove that this is happening if you want to take up the issue with the board. You should keep a log of the time and dates of the noise and make it as detailed as possible. You can record the noise and have witnesses available to substantiate the situation for the board, if necessary. You could also report excessive noise to your landlord and find out whether other tenants are also affected in order to bolster your case. In all probability, if the noise is too loud for you, other people in your building may be experiencing the same problems.

You may be tempted to bring an application right away, after establishing that the noise is unreasonable, but the first step should be to talk to your noisy neighbour, or, if you’re the landlord, to the tenant first. This is often the simplest way and sometimes it’s all that’s required. Your neighbour or tenant may not even realize the amount of noise they’re making. The remedy, if the noise persists even after several requests – and make them in writing after the first – should be an application to your local landlord and tenant board, or to go see a lawyer to determine the best way to proceed.

Often a small investment in getting legal advice at the beginning yields a great reward. Only a landlord can take noisy neighbours to the Landlord and Tenant Board. Tenants need to bring an application against the landlord if the landlord does not take steps to stop the offending tenant. It’s always in the landlord’s best interest to ensure buildings operate properly and to control obstreperous, unruly and inconsiderate tenants. When landlords and tenants work together to maintain healthy and happy living environments, it leads to long and fruitful relationships for both parties.

The articles provided herein are for general information purposes only and not intended as or to be relied upon for legal advice. Consult with a lawyer for your unique situation.

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