A guide to dealing with Noisy Neighbours…
For people who live in an apartment, something that they are sure to encounter at some point is a noisy neighbour. Whether it is a loud TV, door slamming and arguing, or a guitarist practicing their art. The impact this type thing can have on you can range from a minor annoyance, up to significant disturbance and even sleep deprivation. GK3 Group has a long history of renting apartments and houses in the Prescott and Brockville area, and we have dealt with a few noise complaints over the years. Below is our best advice
What Are My Legal Rights as a Tenant?
In Ontario, the law that governs landlord and tenant relationships is called the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The RTA has provisions that deal with situations where one tenant (or the landlord) behaves in a way that interferes with another tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the building. More specifically, subsection 64(1) of the RTA states:
“A landlord may give a tenant notice of termination of the tenancy if the conduct of the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant is such that it substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex for all usual purposes by the landlord or another tenant or substantially interferes with another lawful right, privilege or interest of the landlord or another tenant.”
Talk to your Neighbour
If you have a good relationship with your neighbour, and you think they would be open to a conversation, we think it is always best to try to resolve the problem without involving the landlord. For example, if you are a shift worker, and the person plays music during the day while you are sleeping, it is possible that they simply do not know your work schedule. They might be very willing to cooperate and relocate the music to a different room or turn the volume down.
Advise your Landlord
If you do not have a good relationship with your neighbour, or for any other reason, you are not comfortable approaching your neighbour, the next step would be to inform your landlord. It is very important that you provide concrete examples, with dates and times, and exactly how the neighbour’s behaviour is impacting your reasonable use and enjoyment of your unit and the building.
Sometimes we have seen complaints where we get nothing more than “my neighbour’s kids are loud.” Unfortunately, as a landlord, it is very hard to act on this information. It is much easier if the information is more along the lines of: “My neighbour’s son watches the TV at a very high volume, at least three nights a week, between the hours of 1:00am and 3:00am. The last time it happened was last night, and I have a recording on my phone. This impacts my reasonable enjoyment of my unit because I can’t sleep and I am tired for work the next day.”
With this type of evidence, it makes it clear that there is substantial interference, that it is having a significant negative impact on you, and you have specific dates and times. This makes for a more compelling argument for when the landlord has to engage the neighbour, or perhaps file for eviction. The courts expect to see this level of detail.
Another important step would be to call your landlord when the disturbance is happening so they can witness it themselves. It might take a few days to align everything to make this happen, but it is very worthwhile. If the landlord is able to witness the behaviour, again, it makes for a much more compelling argument when dealing with the other tenant or a judge.
It is important to be realistic of what you expect from the landlord, and the speed at which you expect the issue to be dealt with. The results you can expect from the landlord will be directly correlated with the quality and timeliness of information you gather about the situation. The landlord might have to engage a paralegal or lawyer, file papers with the Landlord and Tenant Board, go to a hearing for eviction, etc. All of these steps take time.
In some cases, where the interference is substantial, you may have to call bylaw services or the police. People often forget that it is not just landlord and tenant laws and your landlord who can dal with noise complaints. There are local bylaws that can also be enforced by the city or the police. Those laws apply equally to renters and home owners, and if someone is breaking the law, you should always remember that you are well within your rights to call the police.
Choose Your Apartment Wisely
As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” What we mean by this is that you can avoid having noisy neighbours by choosing your apartment wisely in the beginning. We encourage all prospective tenants to search our company online, check our google reviews, ask existing tenants about the quality of the tenants in our buildings. If you do your due diligence and choose the right community to call home, the hope is that you will never have to make this type of complaint to your landlord. However, if you do face this type of situation, you also want to be sure that your landlord will deal with it efficiently and professionally.
Best of luck to those searching for an apartment and may you all sleep well at night!