Noise

The Hallmark Estates Bylaws are very clear:

62. (b) An owner* shall not
(ii) make or permit noise in or about any unit or the
common property which in the opinion of the Board
is a nuisance or unreasonably interferes with the
use and enjoyment of a unit or the common property
by any other owner or occupant. No instrument or
other device shall be used within a unit which in
the opinion of the Board causes a disturbance or
interferes with the comfort of other owners;

* ‘owner’ includes ‘tenant’

With the exception of renovation work which is subject to the Unit Alteration and Renovation policy which separately addresses noise, there is no time at which it is acceptable for residents to make noise that bothers your neighbours. There are no ‘quiet hours’ or times during the day in which the ‘no noise’ bylaw is relaxed.

That said, typically residents tend to be more tolerant of noise during daylight or waking hours, whether because they are absent, generating their own noise, or are just less sensitive. Your neighbours may be more forgiving during the day; however, it is important to keep in mind that they are not at all obliged to be. Nor are they obliged to continue to tolerate noise that they have not complained about in the past.

Residents have a right to not be disturbed by their neighbours; residents do not have a right to engage in any activity or use any device that disturbs their neighbours.

If the board receives a complaint about noise from your unit you can expect to receive a warning letter—if you are a tenant, that letter will go to your landlord. If the board continues to receive complaints, you will start receiving fines. Again, if the unit is rented, the fine will go to the owner who is legally responsible for the fine and recouping those costs from their tenants.

Tips For Avoiding Problems

  • Turn down the bass. The bass range propagates through walls much easier than higher ranges and at lower volumes. Turning off a sub-woofer may be the only change you need to make.
  • Invest in headphones if you have to play your music loud.
  • If you’re having a party:
    • keep the size reasonable
    • shut it down at a reasonable time
    • talk to your neighbours beforehand (maybe invite them!)—people will be more tolerant if they know what to expect, if they know it’s not going to be a regular occurrence, if they know you’re open to feedback about the noise level, and if they have the chance to make their own alternate plans.
  • If you suspect you might be pushing the limits, go to your neighbours before they complain and let them know you are open to feedback.
  • If a neighbour speaks to you about noise whether at the time or after the fact:
    • be grateful—they are not obliged to address the issue directly with you and doing so gives you a chance to work out a friendly arrangement before the board gets involved.
    • take their concerns seriously; if you made enough noise that they felt they needed to speak to you, you are by definition, in the wrong. They are not ‘over-sensitive’ and they are not ‘persecuting’ you. It doesn’t matter how much you spent on your stereo system, what time of day it is, or whether you think the volume was OK.
    • respectfully discuss options with your neighbours; perhaps the issue is that they have an atypical work schedule and there are other times they may be more tolerant or regularly absent.
    • always keep in mind that if one person is raising the issue with you, you are likely bothering others as well.
  • Fix the problem—it is your obligation to do so. The board does keep track of formal complaints and can and will impose increasing fines on owners that chronically violate our noise bylaw. If you are a tenant, keep in mind that living in a condo is not the same as other rentals—the board has the power to evict you much easier than your landlord could. If you are an owner and you can’t live by the bylaws you accepted by buying into this community, you should reconsider whether condo living is the right choice for you.

Tips For Handling Problems

  • If you are comfortable doing so, try speaking to your neighbours about their noise levels before making a formal complaint:
    • Offer specifics. If it’s a sub-woofer that is the problem, that entails more options than just “it’s too loud”. If there’s a specific time the noise is more of a problem.
    • Offer options. If there are times you are regularly away or times that you care less about noise, mention those.
    • Give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s difficult to guess what other people can hear or how it may affect them—your neighbours probably don’t realize that they are bothering you.
  • If you are not comfortable raising noise issues with your neighbours or problems persist after you have, do send a separate complaint to the board for every incident as soon as possible. Include specifics: dates and times as well as the nature of the noise. In order to handle chronic bylaw violations properly, it is important for us to have this documentation.
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