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Ask the Lawyer: Resident feels harassed after receiving letter from management office about noise from her son’s piano practice

Dear Mr. Hoffman, We are living in a condo building for about 2 years. My son, a 9-year-old, plays one hour of piano every day, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. We constantly receive complaint letters from my downstairs neighbour about noise (piano). Now I received a letter from property management office about the noise. I feel we have been harassed. I don’t know what we should do. Please help.

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Reader asks what she can do about complaints from neighbours and management office regarding her 9-year-old son’s piano practice between 6:30pm and 7:30pm.

Answer: Most condominium corporations have a rule that states no owner will create a noise that will cause a nuisance or disturb the quiet enjoyment of other owners. The obvious question is how much noise constitutes a nuisance or disturbs the quiet enjoyment of another owner. This is purely subjective. Some noise has to be expected. If you live downtown, it is expected that you will hear cars, sirens and traffic. When you live in a condominium building you are going to hear your neighbours upstairs. They could be moving furniture, walking or even flushing the toilet. The question becomes when does that noise become a nuisance. Many of these noise complaints have found their way to court and the court will look at factors such as the kind of noise, timing, frequency and level in order to determine if it is a nuisance. 

In this case, the noise is attributed to piano playing for one hour a day in the early evening. Frankly, I find that hard to believe that this would constitute a nuisance that a court would order an owner to cease playing the piano. I could understand it if the piano playing was at 1 am or if the piano sound was amplified electronically.

I would speak to the property manager to try and arrange a meeting with the downstairs neighbour to see if a resolution can be reached.

RICHARD P. HOFFMAN

Richard Hoffman has been a member of DelZotto, Zorzi LLP since 1992, practicing in the area of condominium law. He has represented condominium corporations and unit owners through all stages of the litigation process and at all levels of Ontario Courts (Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court and Court of Appeal). He is well experienced in handling all types of condominium litigation, from applications to enforcing compliance with declarations, by-laws or rules, to handling multi-million dollar claims for budget misrepresentation. He has also advised condominium corporations of various sizes on all facets of condominium law.

Richard is presently a member of the Canadian Condominium Institute and regularly lectures on contract and agency law in the condominium context at Humber College, as well, he is a regular contributor to various condominium magazines and has contributed to the condominium section of the Toronto Star.

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