It’s a late Sunday night. Everyone has retired for the night in preparation for another long work week. Well, almost everyone.

Your downstairs noisy neighbour has decided to have a Sunday night dance party in his living room. The sound of the bass reverberates through the walls and right into your bedroom. It’s a party to which you don’t want to be invited. You’d much rather be counting sheep than counting the hours you’re not sleeping.

Neighbourly disputes are nothing new but their frequency is increasing, given that our city and density have grown exponentially in the past few years and we are forced to live in closer and closer quarters with one another.

Nuisance, simply put, is interfering with someone’s enjoyment of their land (or more likely, their apartment suite). The nuisance has to be substantially interfering and given all the circumstances, it has to be unreasonable as well. Take for example this bizarre case from Coquitlam:

A couple lived in a fairly large detached home with neighbours on either side. One June day, neighbours on one side decided to install an air-conditioning unit on the side of their home, less than eighteen feet from the couple’s master bedroom.

Unfortunately, the air-conditioning unit was not as quiet as everyone had hoped, and the noise frequently kept the couple up at night, causing considerable stress and anxiety for both of them. Despite repeated requests by the couple to relocate the device to another area of the home, the neighbours refused to comply. The noisy neighbours even set up a surveillance camera focused on the couple’s home, out of fear that the couple might try to vandalize the air-conditioning unit.

To make a three-year-long legal drama short, the couple ended up receiving about $6,000 for their troubles and Court awarded costs to cover legal expenses. More importantly, the Court ordered that the neighbours could only use the air-conditioner at a lower noise level at different parts of the day.

So, before taking your noisy neighbour to court, exhaust all your other remedies first. Try talking to your neighbour. Mention to him that his Sunday night dance parties are bothering you, because he might not even realize it. You also have the option to complain to your city’s bylaw enforcement officer, strata council or even the local police.

Just don’t suffer in silence – the world recently added its seventh billionth citizen, and who knows, they might be moving into a house near you.

The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.

By , On , In Mediation & Arbitration