Living in Toronto can often mean living with noise. Even in quieter neighborhoods, it’s hard to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy city stretching from west end to east end.
Like a lot of condo-centric neighbourhoods, Liberty Village is surrounded by busy transportation arteries (i.e. the Gardiner and rail tracks), concert venues (i.e. Fort York, Budweiser Stage) and construction. However, some of the worst noise can come from within our own condo buildings. Alas, the dreaded “noisy neighbour”!
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Loud, brash, and prideful, noise by-laws need not apply to these folk – at least, that is presumably their philosophy at two o’clock in the morning when they’re shouting, singing, and banging around their condo.
Despite the urge to let a noisy neighbour have it, it’s rarely a good idea to confront a noisy neighbour head-on. The safest, recommended option is to let the pros handle it – generally starting with concierge or property management. As unbearable as the 3am party seems when you are desperate to sleep, there are some obvious (and less-obvious) reasons not to directly confront your noisy neighbour. Here’s why.
#1 – Is the noise as noisy as you think it is?
It may seem like bothersome noise is pretty clear-cut, but it may not be. While you are entitled to quiet enjoyment of your residence your neighbours are entitled to play music or even host a party. People living in condos have a duty to comply with the corporation’s regulations and excessive noise are usually outlined in those regulations. Condo corporations, for their part, have a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure such compliance. But to what extent? Can residents be evicted because they are causing excessive noise? Or should the corporation let neighbours sort out their own differences? An Ontario judge ruled that the answer to both questions is “no”. In a nutshell, condo corporations will generally take a conciliatory approach when dealing with compliance issues like noise complaints before things really escalate.
#2 – If you do confront your neighbour, do it nicely!
It can be loud music, babies crying, or loud footsteps—noises that can trigger your reflexes to eventually lose your mind. The first step you should take is to assess the situation. Is the noise due to a special occasion or festivity? If such is the case, it would be best to let it go, unless it’s unreasonably late. In cases where you really need to address the problem, it’s important that you deal with it nicely. Gently knock on your neighbor’s door and try saying, “Perhaps you don’t realize the sound from your stereo is loud? I’d appreciate if you turn down the volume.” Most of the time that is all that you need to do. However, if that does not help, then you will need to escalate the matter with concierge, property management and the board of directors.
#3 – The resources are there to report the noise
Most condo buildings in Liberty Village have concierge and security services. These people are there to oversee matters in the building. When there is noise, concierge and security services are tasked to handle it in a very specific way. Make sure you have their phone number handy for those late-night situations. That way, you won’t have to leave your unit and you’ll get to (hopefully) nip the noise problem in the bud.
#4 – Next steps, mediation
Condo noise complaints have grown so common that an entire industry has sprung up, devoted to resolving condo disputes between neighbours, owners and boards. Companies such as Placet Dispute Resolution specializes in resolving these cases Under Section 132 of the Ontario Condominium Act – any disagreement between the condo corporation and owners regarding rules or bylaws has to go to mediation and, if necessary, arbitration for resolution. Sometimes the condo corporation pays the fee. Usually, the two opposing parties would have to share the cost.
Noisy neighbours are a real kick in the pants but it’s important to know how to react. As dismissive as it may sound, letting it endlessly bother you is not a good way to go about living. Use the right channels to deal with a noisy neighbours and pursue those, instead of letting that frustration bubble over. Nobody wants to get to the point where it affects your desire to live there.
Liberty Village is diverse, fun and dense – all very typical of downtown condo living. By no means are these issues unique to our awesome neighbourhood. Rather, these are challenges faced by anyone living in condo neighbourhoods. Fortunately there are more ways today to deal with noisy neighbours than there were years ago.
Day or night, there will always be someone somewhere making more noise than they should be. Believe it or not, sometimes that person may even be you. Just remember to be courteous, cautious, approach things diplomatically and sensibly, and to leave the confrontation to the professionals.