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Vibration

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.

Vibration

Vibrations are among the most common issues in condominium communities. When you live in a condominium, you will likely occasionally experience or feel vibrations coming from other units or the common elements.

Vibrations or tremors are typically identified by feel (e.g., you can feel the floor or walls moving). Depending on the type and intensity of the vibration, they can be silent or may also cause a sound or noise.

Unwanted vibrations can be caused by:

  • Someone else’s behaviour within the condominium (i.e., human activity),
  • A defect in the design and construct of the condominium (i.e., mechanical systems); or
  • An external source outside of the condominium (i.e., nearby construction).

Examples of common vibration issues include:

  • Vibrations caused by neighbours or from neighbouring units, including dancing or aerobic exercises which can cause vibrations into neighbouring units.
  • Vibrations caused by the operation of the common elements, including elevators, air conditioners, garbage chutes, or HVAC or plumbing systems.
  • Vibrations emanating from outside of the condominium, such as from a nearby highway or construction equipment.

If you think your vibration issue may be caused by or is creating noise, you may be dealing with a Noise issue.

Have a Question?

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidenceIf you have a question about any of the information you’ve read, please contact us. We have a team available to answer any questions you may have.

How do my condominium corporation’s governing documents apply?

Every condominium owner and occupant is required to comply with the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Condo Act”), and with the condominium corporation’s governing documents (i.e. its declaration, by-laws, and rules).

If you are having an issue with vibration, or if you received a complaint about a vibration issue that you are making, you should start by reviewing your condominium corporation’s governing documents. Because living in a condominium often means living close to your neighbours, many condominium corporations have provisions in their governing documents to prevent unwanted vibrations.

If your condominium corporation has provisions in its governing documents relating to vibration, these provisions would most likely be found in the corporation’s declaration or rules, though they may also be found in the by-laws.

By reviewing these documents, you can determine what is and isn’t allowed in your condominium corporation when it comes to vibration. Depending on the issue, you may also want to review your corporation’s governing documents for other provisions that might be relevant, even if those provisions do not specifically mention vibrations.

For example, your condo corporation’s governing documents may contain provisions that:

  • Prohibit certain activities that are likely to cause vibrations (e.g., no dancing or aerobic exercises, or restrictions on moving furniture or working on renovations after a certain time).
  • Prohibit the use of certain common elements at certain times that are known to cause disruptive vibrations at certain times (e.g., garbage chutes).
  • Require unit owners to repair or maintain their unit or common elements to prevent unwanted vibrations (e.g., plumbing systems).

If you are experiencing a vibration issue, you may want to first review your condominium corporation’s governing documents for any vibration-related provisions or obligations.

A condominium corporation’s governing documents are required to be consistent with the Condo Act. In addition, a condominium corporation’s by-laws and rules must be consistent with the declaration and must be reasonable.

For an overview of condominium declarations, by-laws and rules, visit our website by clicking here.

Don’t have a copy of your condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws or rules?

You can request a copy from your condominium corporation using the mandatory Request for Records form, available on our website.

How does the Condo Act apply?

Section 119 (1) of the Condo Act, requires everyone, including unit owners, occupants and your condominium corporation to comply with the Condo Act, and your condominium corporation’s governing documents. Accordingly, if your condominium corporation’s governing documents deal with vibrations, everyone is required to follow them.

Furthermore, under section 17 (3) of the Condo Act, condominium corporations are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that everyone complies with the Condo Act and the condominium corporation’s governing documents.

If a vibration issue does occur, it may need to be addressed immediately. Section 117 (2) of the Condo Act prohibits anyone from carrying on an activity or permitting an activity in the unit or common elements if the activity results in the creation of or continuation of any unreasonable vibration that is a nuisance, annoyance, or disruption in the condominium corporation.

Vibration issues that interfere with a person’s right to use and enjoy their unit may constitute an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption. Whether a vibration issue is an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption depends on several different factors, including:

  • The source of the vibration;
  • The intensity of the vibration;
  • How long it lasts;
  • How often it occurs;
  • Whether it affects a person’s right to use and enjoy their unit.

The Condo Act prohibits everyone from causing an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption in a condominium, regardless of what a condominium corporation’s governing documents say.

Prolonged exposure to excessive or constant vibrations could impact an individual’s enjoyment of their unit.

A condominium corporation is legally required to take action to address a vibration-related issue that:

  • Is causing an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption; or,
  • Violates the Condo Act and/or corporation’s governing documents.

Accordingly, If you have a vibration-related issue, you should notify your condominium corporation as soon as possible so they can deal with it.

If an owner or occupant is causing an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption (either by doing something or failing to do something), or if they are not complying with the condominium’s governing documents, then the condominium corporation or another owner may take legal action against them, including filing an application with the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT).

Likewise, if a condominium corporation causes an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance, or disruption (either by doing something or failing to do something) then a unit owner may take legal action against them, including filing an application with the CAT.

Repairs and Maintenance

Some vibration issues might be the result of malfunctioning components and might require repairs or maintenance to fix them (e.g., shaking or vibrating mechanical equipment, like a garage door or elevator).

Under the Condo Act, owners are responsible for maintaining their own units and condominium corporations are responsible for maintaining the common elements. Condominium corporations are also responsible for repairing both the units and the common elements after damage.

That said, a condominium corporation’s declaration may alter who is responsible for repairs and maintenance – for instance, a condominium corporation’s declaration could specify that owners are responsible for repairing their own units after damage, or that owners are responsible for maintaining some of the common elements. If you have a vibration issue related to repairs and maintenance, you should check your condominium corporation’s declaration to determine who is responsible.

For more information on repair and maintenance obligations, please click here.

Municipal By-Laws

While condominium corporations are required to ensure that everyone complies with the Condo Act and with the condominium corporation’s governing documents, they may not be able to control what happens outside of the condominium corporation’s property or physical boundaries. In such situations, you may need to review your municipalities by-laws or contact the organization responsible for your municipality’s by-law enforcement.

For example, your condominium corporation may not be able to address issues like:

  • Vibrations coming from other buildings;
  • Vibrations caused by traffic on nearby streets; or
  • Vibrations caused by nearby construction.

Municipalities frequently have by-laws that prohibit vibrations or other activities that may cause vibrations. For example, the construction vibration by-law for the City of Toronto states that activities that cause vibrations that may be transmitted to surrounding properties must be monitored on sites where construction is occurring.

Many condominium corporations have provisions in their governing documents that require owners and occupants to comply with all municipal by-laws. Often, a condominium corporation’s governing documents and a municipal by-law will prohibit the same things.

If something is permitted under a by-law, the corporation may still prohibit it under the condominium corporation’s governing documents. The same is true in reverse, and sometimes the municipal by-laws will prohibit things that the governing documents allow.

Depending on the type of issue you’re experiencing, you may also wish to review your municipality’s by-laws, or contact the organization responsible for your municipality’s by-law enforcement.

If you have any questions about whether a municipal by-law applies to you, contact your municipality.

Other Legal Considerations

While condominium corporations are required to ensure that everyone complies with the Condo Act and with the condominium corporation’s governing documents, they may not be able to control what happens outside of the condominium corporation’s property or physical boundaries.

For example, your condominium corporation may not be able to address issues like:

  • Vibrations coming from other buildings; or
  • Vibrations coming from nearby streets or the environment.

Depending on the type of issue you’re experiencing, you may also wish to review your municipality’s by-laws, or contact the organization responsible for your municipality’s by-law enforcement.

Have a Question?

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidenceIf you have a question about any of the information you’ve read, please contact us. We have a team available to answer any questions you may have.

We strongly recommend that you attempt all the steps below in sequence (where appropriate) before taking any further action.

Solutions for Condominium Boards & Managers >

File an application with the CAT

If you have tried the steps above and your issue still hasn’t been resolved, you may be able to file an application with the CAT to resolve your dispute. The CAT is an online tribunal dedicated to resolving condominium disputes.

The CAT is pleased to provide an online dispute resolution system (CAT-ODR) to help Ontario’s condominium communities resolve their condominium disputes conveniently, quickly, and affordably.

To file with the CAT, your application must deal with:

  • An unreasonable nuisance, disruption or annoyance related to Vibration;
  • One or more provisions of your condominium corporation’s governing documents which relate to Vibration; and / or,
  • Indemnification or compensation (commonly called “chargebacks”) related to Vibration.

How can the CAT help resolve my dispute?

The CAT has a three-stage dispute resolution process:

  • In Stage 1 – Negotiation, you will work with the other parties to try to resolve the issues.
  • In Stage 2 – Mediation, you will work with a CAT Mediator to try to resolve the issues.
  • In Stage 3 – Tribunal Decision, a CAT Member will conduct an online hearing, during which both sides will make their case. The Member will then issue an order resolving the issues.

Learn more about the CAT’s process here.

Who can file a Vibration-related application with the CAT?

Unit owners, mortgagees, and condominium corporations can file applications with the CAT.

What kinds of disputes can be filed with the CAT?

The CAT can deal with two different types of disputes involving Vibration:

  1. Disputes about unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions.
    • You can file an application about an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance or disruption regardless of what your condominium corporation’s governing documents say.
  2. Disputes about the provisions in your condominium corporation’s governing documents that deal with Vibration.

What might be considered an unreasonable nuisance, annoyance or disruption?

The Condo Act prohibits unreasonable Vibration-related nuisances, annoyances or disruptions. While the Condo Act does not define the term “unreasonable,” the following criteria may be relevant:

  • The source of the Vibration;
  • The intensity of the Vibration;
  • How long it lasts;
  • How often it occurs;
  • Whether it is permitted or prohibited by the condominium corporation’s governing documents; and,
  • Whether it affects a person’s right to use and enjoy their unit.

What kinds of disputes about the provisions of the condominium corporation’s governing documents can be filed with the CAT?

You can file a dispute about the Vibration related provisions of your condominium’s governing documents. This includes issues involving:

  • Compliance with provisions in the corporation’s governing documents related to Vibration;
  • The consistency and/or reasonableness of those provisions;
  • The applicability of those provisions; and
  • Any related indemnification / compensation.

Seeking legal advice

If you need advice or guidance, you may wish to seek legal advice from a paralegal or lawyer licensed by the Law Society of Ontario.

If you do not already have a lawyer or paralegal, you may be interested in the Law Society Referral service, which is an online service provided by the LSO to connect people in need with licensed lawyers and paralegals. The service is free, and you may receive up to a half-hour free consultation.

Please note: The CAO and its staff are not permitted to provide legal interpretations or advice.

Want to learn more about previous CAT cases?

Access the CAT’s previous decisions on our website.

Ready to file?

There is a non-refundable $25 fee to file an application with the CAT.

Have a Question?

Shape Description automatically generated with medium confidenceIf you have a question about any of the information you’ve read, please contact us. We have a team available to answer any questions you may have.