The Laws Against Noisy Neighbours
Yes, there are laws against noisy neighbours! You’re not alone. There is help available to aid you in your quest for quiet.
It’s Time To Use Those Laws Against Noisy Neighbours!
Your first task will always be to write an anonymous note. But, what if you’ve already done that? What if your anonymous note is being ignored?
Then, thankfully, there are laws against noisy neighbours!
Strata bylaws include rules about noise pollution & noise violations. The Residential Tenancy Act also has laws against noisy neighbours. Your city, as well, will have noise violation bylaws. Thankfully, all have standardized systems to:
- Accept your written noise complaints &
- To deal with your noisy neighbours.
The Strata Property Act of British Columbia: Schedule of Standard Bylaws
Here is an excerpt taken from the “Schedule of Standard Bylaws” in the Greater Vancouver Area. Strata corporations usually “personalize” their bylaws to some degree. However, all strata corporations (in British Columbia) must include the following bylaw:
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 make use of when you email a formal complaint to your strata council (usually via your property manager).
When you send your well-written email full of detailed information to your property management company, then by law:
- They must present it to the strata council at a properly convened council meeting.
- They have to forward a warning letter to your noisy neighbour. They will include an invitation to either: write a defence/admission letter, or attend a Council hearing (Strata Property Act 135 in British Columbia).
- In British Columbia, strata corporations & the strata agents acting on their behalf must adhere to the privacy rules contained in PIPA. In other words, your identity must remain confidential.
The Residential Tenancy Act of British Columbia
If you rent your suite from a landlord? If so, you are also protected from noise from noisy neighbours. Or even from a noisy landlord! Here’s the section of the Residential Tenancy Act of B.C. that pertains to noise.
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.
For further help for renters, please click here > You’re a Renter? | Making Noise Complaints Against Noisy Neighbours.
Your City’s Noise Control Bylaw
Excerpts taken from Noise Control Bylaw 5819 – North Vancouver City:
Quiet Area Sound Level
A person may make, cause or permit to be made, a continuous sound with a sound level during the daytime of 55 decibels or less, and during the nighttime of 45 decibels or less when received at a point of reception within a quiet area.
The definition of :
“quiet area” includes any area of the municipality where the absence of noise is of particular importance to persons in that area at any time, and includes any area within the municipality shown on Schedule “A” attached hereto; (the areas zoned residential were included in the quiet area shown on Schedule A).
“noise” includes: any sound, continuous sound or non-continuous sound which disturbs or tends to disturb the peace, quiet, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood in which such sound is received, or, of any reasonable person in the vicinity of the source of such sound who receives such sound.
What is a Decibel?
According to Wikipedia:
The decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit used to express the ratio between two values of a physical quantity, often power or intensity. One of these quantities is often a reference value, and in this case the decibel can be used to express the absolute level of the physical quantity, as in the case of sound pressure.
City bylaws are usually somewhat based on decibels.
- 0dB Threshold of human hearing
- 10dB Normal breathing
- 20dB Rustling leaves, mosquito
- 30dB Whisper, quiet library
- 40dB Stream
- 50dB Moderate rainfall
- 55dB Quiet office
- 60dB Normal conversation
- 65dB Laughter
- 70dB Vacuum cleaner
- 80dB Noisy city traffic
- 85dB Lawnmower
- 88dB Motorcycle
- 100dB Hand drill
- 110dB Symphony orchestra
- 120dB Thunderclap
- 120dB Stereo
- 130dB Rock concert
- 145dB Boom cars
- 194dB Loudest sound possible
The laws will be similar where ever you live. So, you see, you’re not alone. There are laws against noisy neighbours! These are in place to help you with your quest for quiet. But it’s up to you to make use of them.
– Robin Rumble
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