Strata and Condo Law

Unreasonable Noise Levels in Strata Living

Unreasonable noise can, depending on the circumstances, amount to nuisance. In law, a party that causes a nuisance, can be liable for somewhat nominal (depending on the circumstances) damages.

The case of Chen v The Owners, Strata Plan NW 2265, 2017 BCCRT 113, was a dispute as to whether the common property hot tub, in an condo-type strata, caused a nuisance to the owner who lived in the unit directly above the hot tub room.

The relevant facts were:

  1. The owner was aware that the unit was directly above the hot tub when she purchased it;
  2. The hot tub jets and pump noise were loud enough that the owner could hear them at all times of day and night;
  3. The strata council conducted progressive maintenance on the hot tub and jets to reduce the noise;
  4. The strata hired several noise experts to determine whether the noise from the hot tub was unreasonable in the owner’s unit, which experts also provided recommendations on how to reduce that noise; and
  5. The strata council followed, most of, but not all, the recommendations.

After all the investigations and repairs, the owner still complained that the noise prevented her from enjoying her unit and prevented her from sleeping properly. The CRT then had to determine whether the strata council had acted reasonably and reasonably prompt in its efforts.

The CRT found that the noise from the hot tub was a nuisance that the strata was responsible because the hot tub was common property and the responsibility of the strata corporation to repair and maintain. The CRT also found that the strata failed to conduct an appropriately complete investigation of the owner’s complaints.
As a result, the strata was ordered to stop operation of the hot tub unless and until it reduced the hot tub noise to a reasonable level. The owner was also granted $4,000 in damages for the strata’s delay and failure to resolve the noise issue over 2.5 years.
The fact that the strata had already spent $10,000 in fixing the issue didn’t absolve the strata of its responsibility. It had ignored recommendations of professionals and let a situation continue that impacted the daily living of an owner which was significantly unfair to the owner in question.

 

 

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