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Noise

Welcome to the CAO’s guided steps to common issues. The CAO provides the information, tools, and templates on these pages to help condominium communities better understand issues and work together to resolve them collaboratively before they escalate into disputes. For situations where condo communities are unable to resolve their issues collaboratively, the CAO also provides information on the next steps they can take.

If you have any questions about any of the information on the CAO’s guided steps to common issues, please contact us directly.

Noise

Noise complaints are one of the most common condo issues. In many instances, living in a condominium will mean living close to your neighbours, and sounds from one unit can travel into another unit or into the common elements.

Unwanted noise is usually caused by either:

  • someone else’s behaviour; or
  • the design and construction of the building, such as a lack of sound proofing, or noisy features like elevators or garbage chutes.

Examples of common noise issues include:

  • Neighbours playing loud music or having a party.
  • Noises created by pets, such as a barking dog.
  • Noises created by children running or screaming.
  • Loud noises coming from adjacent common elements.

If you suspect that your noise issue may be caused by another resident’s pet, you may be dealing with a common pets issue.

If you are having an issue with unwanted noise, you should begin tracking the dates and times that the sound is occurring. This may help identify the source or cause of the noise.

If you receive a complaint or are having an issue with unwanted noise, start by reviewing your condo’s by-laws and rules. Most condo corporations have rules about creating noise and disturbing other residents.

Oftentimes, condominiums will have by-laws or rules that:

  • Prohibit noises at certain times;
  • Prohibit certain activities at certain times; and/or
  • Prohibit interfering with the ability of a neighbour to enjoy their property.

In addition to your condo’s by-laws or rules, section 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998 (“the Act”) prohibits a person from allowing a condition to exist or to carry on activity in a unit or in the common elements if it is likely to damage the property or injure someone. While noise issues are unlikely to result in injuries or damage to property, section 117 will soon be amended to prohibit anyone from creating unreasonable noise that is a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption to another resident.

It is important to note that the amendments to section 117 described above are not currently part of the Act. Therefore, the forthcoming amendments to section 117 are not yet law.

Under section 17 (3) of the Condominium Act, 1998, condominium corporations are required to enforce the provisions of the Act and of the declaration, by-laws, and rules of the condo. If an owner does not comply with the Act, declaration, by-laws, or rules, legal action may be taken against them.

We recommend that you attempt all the steps below in sequence (where appropriate) until your issue is resolved.

1. Understand your rights and obligations

The Act will soon contain rules about creating a noise that is a nuisance in a condo community. Your condo’s declaration, by-laws, and rules may also address noise.

If you have already read this information, proceed to step 2.

2. Notify the condominium corporation of your concern

Notifying your condominium corporation is an important step. After you contact them, the condo manager and/or the board will usually investigate the source of the noise. If the noise is being caused by a building component, it may require a repair. If the noise is being caused by another resident, your manager or board will typically contact the resident who is causing it on your behalf. Other residents will usually stop creating the noise once they have heard from your condo manager or board.

Letter and email templates that can be used for contacting your condo board or manager are available under ‘Helpful Resources’ on this page.

If your issue is not resolved by notifying your condominium corporation, proceed to step 3.

3. Follow up in writing

If you have already expressed your concern to the condo manager or board, you may wish to follow up with your board in writing. You should keep a copy of the letter or email that you send and note the day that you sent it for future reference.

Need more help?

Mediation and arbitration are effective ways to resolve disputes where the parties are unable to reach a resolution themselves. Mediation and arbitration are commonly used to help resolve difficult condo disputes and are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Under section 132 (4) of the Condominium Act, 1998, all condo corporations in the province are deemed to have a provision in their declaration which says that disputes regarding the declaration, by-laws or rules must be filed for mediation or arbitration. Your condo corporation may also have a by-law that establishes the procedure that must be followed in the event of a dispute.

If you have been asked to participate in a mediation or arbitration, you are likely legally required to participate.

If you want to try mediation or arbitration for an unresolved issue, you will need to find a mediator or arbitrator who can assist you. You can search for a mediator or arbitrator online and through organizations that provide ADR services, such as the ADR Institute of Ontario.

Mediation

Mediation is a process where a neutral facilitator tries to bring the parties to a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation is the preferred approach because it’s often less costly and it gives the parties an opportunity to collaborate on finding a solution that everyone is comfortable with.

Arbitration

If mediation fails, binding arbitration is the next step. Arbitration is a process where an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) conducts a hearing and makes a ruling on the issues in the dispute. The parties involved in the dispute bring evidence to this hearing and then the arbitrator makes a binding decision. There are some cases where an arbitration decision can successfully be appealed to court.

Further legal action

If you are considering legal action against a neighbour or your condo corporation, you may wish to talk to a lawyer or paralegal. It is recommended that you try mediation and/or arbitration before taking a dispute to court.

External resources