Q. Our Condo Board sent us a series of letters claiming excessive noise. Our lawyer sent a letter to the board denying the excessive noise (we have adjoining neighbours who can attest to the fact that we are very quiet.) The claims are not true — the people next door simply don’t like us. Now we have a letter from the lawyer representing the Condo Corporation saying they were asked to contact us regarding excessive noise and if we do not cease they will get a court order to make us. This included a bill for $450 for the Condo’s legal expenses that are billed to the Corporation and “will be charged back against our unit.” The noise complaints are allegations — not established facts. Will we have to pay this bill?
A. I have featured a number of these issues in my column but there are still persistent inquiries from both sides of the equation: The noise makers and the noise complainants.
The first point you must remember is that condominiums are a form of communal living. The road of least resistance is to attempt to get along with everyone and keep your nose out of other’s business. If your neighbours have reached the point where they have formally complained to the Board and the Board has gone to the cost and effort of retaining their lawyer to write you a letter, then presumably the members are taking this issue seriously. Have there been any noise complaints accompanied by a police visit? Have your neighbours personally visited you to attempt to lower your noise level? I would be inquiring after these items before I considered paying any legal fees.
One the other side of the coin, some neighbours can be very testy and overly sensitive to regular neighbour’s noise. I for one have found myself in this situation and it is not pleasant to have to tiptoe around one’s own home. You are entitled to quiet enjoyment of your condo just as your neighbours are entitled.
In terms of the bill, the condo has the power to apply specific costs against unit owners who may have to pay them. However, you state these claims are unfounded. It seems like you need an impartial body who can step in and sort out this mess. Neither the board, your complaining neighbours, you nor either lawyers meet those requirements. With an eye to economy, perhaps the parties can mutually agree on someone — perhaps a past board member — to assist you with this problem.
Remember, living in a condo can be quite political and contentious. One of the issues that comes with communal living.
– Jeffrey Cowan is the principal with Cowan Taylor and McGee, Barristers & Solicitors. The information in this article should not be relied upon as legal advice.
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