With 23 years experience in strata living, Sylvia amassed help to topple a rogue council, then spent 4 years on council herself.
By now, you’ve slipped your noisy neighbours a well-written anonymous note. It didn’t make a damn bit of difference. You’ve warned them. They know they’re being bothersome. They just don’t care!
Thankfully, whether you live in a rental, strata, or detached home, there are laws against noisy neighbours. Yes! There’s help to aid you in your quest for quiet.
In British Columbia, Canada, the Residential Tenancy Act, Strata Bylaws as well as your town or City Hall will have noise violation bylaws. All have standardized systems to:
- Accept your written noise complaints and
- Deal with your noisy neighbours.
Whichever of the three following situations describe your living arrangements, your second task is a well-written, detailed email complaining about the noise.
Ensure you thread each email with the previous communications. You’ve no idea how this issue will escalate and it’s best to keep all information in one place.
1. Do you Rent your Home from a Landlord?
Send your well-written, detailed complaint email to your landlord. Did your landlord ignore your email? Yes! Then it’s time to involve the authorities …
British Columbia's Residential Tenancy Branch exists specifically to protect the rights of tenants. They will aid you with a dispute resolution.
Did you know, as a renter in B.C., the residential tenancy laws are in your favour? Make use of these laws against your noisy neighbours. It’s your right!
The Residential Tenancy Act of British Columbia:
Protection of tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment
28 A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment including, but not limited to, rights to the following:
- (a) reasonable privacy;
- (b) freedom from unreasonable disturbance;
- (c) exclusive possession of the rental unit subject only to the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit in accordance with section 29 [landlord’s right to enter rental unit restricted];
- (d) use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference.
2. Do you Own a Home in a Strata?
Send your well-written, detailed complaint email to your property manager.
While over time, strata councils may "personalize" their bylaws to reflect the culture of their community, all must base their bylaws on the The Strata Property Act of British Columbia and include The Schedule of Standard Bylaws:
Use of property
3 (1) An owner, tenant, occupant or visitor must not use a strata lot, the common property or common assets in a way that
- (a) causes a nuisance or hazard to another person,
- (b) causes unreasonable noise,
- (c) unreasonably interferes with the rights of other persons to use and enjoy the common property, common assets or another strata lot,
- (d) is illegal, or
- (e) is contrary to a purpose for which the strata lot or common property is intended as shown expressly or by necessary implication on or by the strata plan.
This is the bylaw you cite when emailing a formal complaint to your strata council (usually via your property manager).
Upon receiving your well-written complaint email full of detailed information, your property management company must, by law:
- Present it to the strata council at a properly convened council meeting.
- Forward a warning letter to your noisy neighbour, including an invitation write a defence/admission letter, or attend a Council hearing (Strata Property Act 135 in British Columbia).
- Adhere to the privacy rules contained in PIPA. Meaning, in British Columbia, strata councils and the property agents must keep your identity confidential.
3. Do you Own a Detached House?
Send your well-written, detailed complaint email to your city bylaw officer. They will follow up.
Where's the Source of The Noise?
Whether your home is a rental, in a strata or in a detached house, you still need to verified that the bothersome noise is indeed coming from the accused. Walk the halls or sidewalks. Make sure you have the correct neighbour.
Take the time to be exact. You’re accusing your neighbour of excessive noise and subjecting them to a fine. You don’t have the luxury of making a mistake.
If the noise is ridiculous, call the police (non-emergency number) every single time, making sure to record the time, date and the exact reason.
Start the preparations to email your formal complaint to your landlord, your strata council, or your city hall.
How do I Keep Precise Records?
Record the following:
- The exact date and time of the noise.
- Describe the noise objectively (thud, bump, scrape). Describe what you believe is causing the noise (sounds like a dragging chair).
- If it’s music, name the band, the song and even some lyrics.
- Edit the information to be sure nothing betrays who you are, or your location. For example: ceiling, floor, up, down etc. Remember that the ongoing safety of you and your family is important. Your identity must remain confidential.
The more detailed and exacting your information is, the more effective your efforts will be to:
- Shock your neighbours into immediately changing their behaviour. Hopefully upon receiving that first official warning letter.
- Inform your neighbours on how much of their noise you can actually hear.
- Teach your neighbours how much noise is considered respectful.
- Quash any notions your neighbours may have toward denial and stories of innocence.
Write a Detailed Complaint Email about your Noisy Neighbour
If anything about your email is unclear, the recipient can ignore it. Make sure you include your full name, strata plan number, and address. And that of your noisy neighbours.
Your correspondence should read something like this:
- From: (your email address)
- To: (property manager’s direct email address)
- Subject: Noise Complaint, from Strata plan VR321, Suite #122
Re: Noise Complaint – Strata plan VR321, Suite #123
Hi (property manager’s name),
The owner of suite #123 has rented their property out to new tenants whose choice of lifestyle is incompatible with the bylaws. Below is a running description of what we’ve been enduring:
Saturday, January 12th
- 10:30 – 11:00pm: Pounding music reverberating throughout our apartment (techno/house) with shouting over-top of the music.
- 11:00pm – 3:00am: Raised voices, shouting, cheering and howling
- 3:00am – 4:00am: Loud music (techno/house) with shouting over-top of the music.
Sunday, January 13th
- 5:00am – 5:20am: Loud music reverberating through our apartment (techno/house)
- 11:08pm – 12:33am: Shouting, profanity, slamming doors, glass bottles shattering
Monday, January 14th
- 8:31pm – 9:33pm: Music (we could only hear & feel the bass)
- 9:33pm – 12:33am: Turned up the music (techno/house) and shouting
Tuesday, January 15th
7:38pm – 1:27am: Raised voices ongoing, profanity, slamming doors
Thursday, January 17th
- 2:04pm – 3:30pm: Raised voices, profanity, slamming doors
- 6:10pm – 1:06am: Raised voices, shouting and cheering ongoing
Saturday, January 19th
- 8:48pm – 4am: Pounding music (techno/house) reverberating throughout our apartment with shouting and howling over-top of the music
Sunday, January 20th
- 7:03pm – 11:46pm: Raised voices, shouting and cheering ongoing. Every second word is profanity. I could hear this over my own music.
- 3:40am – 4:35am: Loud sexual announcements (loud enough to wake me!)
Thank you (property manager’s name), I really appreciate your help!
Sincerely, (Your name)
The landlord, property manager, or bylaw officer will send a warning letter for noise violation along with the running noise description.
Continue With Your Record Keeping
If the noise does not stop, continue to compile information. Send the details to your landlord or the Property Management Company—thread the emails. After the initial warning, your noisy neighbour can be fined. Paying fines is usually enough to get neighbours to change their annoying habits.
What If It Doesn’t Work?
You’ve sent repeated emails to your strata council. They’ve sent fine after fine to your noisy neighbour. But the noise persists. If your neighbour’s noise can be heard out-of-doors, your city hall may be able to help.
Make a Noise Complaint With Your City Hall
Start with Google. Type your town or city’s name into the browser, followed by noise complaint. From there (you may need to tweak your search) a page including your city or town’s Bylaw Complaint Process should come up.
Something like this Bylaw Complaint Process page on the City of North Vancouver’s website.
Follow the instructions to the letter and with hope, help will soon be on the way.
You May Have to Hire a Lawyer!
Taking your noisy neighbour issue to court is specifically why you need to keep accurate records. Please note: revenge on your noisy neighbour has no place in this process. At some point, your actions can be held against you. Be careful!
More Information on Noisy Neighbour Issues:
- How to Complain Anonymously to your Noisy Neighbour
- What are the Detrimental Effects of Noise Pollution?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2021 Sylvia Leong