Unfortunately, noisy tenants, noisy neighbors, and noisy pets are commonplace issues for landlords and neighbors. It’s not just an annoyance; legally, tenants and property owners have the right to quiet enjoyment of their property. So, which part of quiet enjoyment is your responsibility as the landlord, and how much of it falls under municipal legislation?
According to the municipal bylaws, noise falls into four categories;
- Noisy devices people use on their property
- Noisy speakers
- Vehicle noise
- Pet noise
What happens if your neighbors complain your noisy tenant likes to relax after a long day of work by mowing the lawn or building furniture with power tools at 11 p.m.?
The municipality has noise bylaws that support a good night’s sleep. Municipal bylaws restrict disturbance from lawnmowers, motorized garden tools, power tools model aircrafts (driven by an internal combustion engine), snowblowers, leaf blowers, and sport ramps between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Sunday and holidays.
Do you have a party-hardy tenant who likes to have outdoor celebrations with blaring outdoor speakers? Bylaws do not allow outdoor speaker systems within 150 metres of a residential area between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Sunday. The one exception? The Calgary Stampede, where restrictions are extended from midnight to 7 a.m.
I used to live across the street from a duplex where the neighbors were constantly feuding. One side would have a party and make sure they did everything humanly possible to annoy their neighbor. This wasn’t the smartest idea because the neighbor had a gun. Sure enough, an hour or two into their backyard partying, the gun-wielding neighbor would come flying out of his house brandishing a rifle, hollering that he was going to kill them. He never did, but the police were frequent guests. I eventually moved. I sure don’t miss the weekly drama.
Judging from my teenage male neighbors, I’m convinced there is a link between testosterone and vehicle noise. A loud car speaker system on public property and a moving vehicle emitting noise at 96 decibels or more is deemed “objectionable noise” (to us old folks) and falls under Traffic bylaws. Vehicle noise from a car’s sound system on private property falls under the Community Standards Bylaw.
Every pet owner will tell you their pet is quiet and well-behaved.
Luckily, the municipality created the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, which states pet owners must supervise their pets when they are outside so that they don’t disturb their neighbors with incessant barking.
What kind of fines does the municipality charge for Rover the Rottweiler’s 24/7 barking, Ben the Builder’s nocturnal construction, Pete the Partier’s outdoor noise fests, or Tim Testosterone’s car sound system? The fine for noise over the allowable limit is $250 (per infraction), and $500 for outdoor concert speakers exceeding the permissible limit. Admittedly, they’re not huge fines, but they can add up over time.
What If the behaviour doesn’t change?
Before jumping straight into an eviction, investigate. Talk to the tenant and log the behaviour and what you have done to resolve it. It’s better to see what can be done to work things out if both parties want to stay put.
I lived in a duplex where the next-door neighbors always had 48-hour parties at the beginning of their days off (Thursday nights). One particularly loud night, I wrote, “turn music down please”, in black felt pen on a white paper, threw my coat and boots over my pj’s, walked over, rang the doorbell, and held up my request. They turned the music down and came over the next day and apologized with flowers. Over the years, I made a few more trips next door to request lower decibels and was always respectful and polite. We’ve stayed on good terms because I know they are good people who just happen to like really loud music every 14 days yet respected my need for a good night’s sleep on weeknights.
If discussions or fines don’t make a difference in the tenant’s behaviour – then according to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), you can move to evict your tenant for substantial breach. If your rental property is a condominium, the fines are usually applied directly to the owner’s ledger. If the tenant refuses to pay them, you can apply them against the security deposit at the termination of the lease.
Of course, the best defense is a good offense, and a thorough tenant screening process should weed out noisy tenants before they move into your property. However, if one manages to sneak through your screening system, between your verbal skills, the municipal bylaws, and the RTA you should have all the tools you need to work out a solution to noisy tenants, noisy neighbors, noisy pets, and noisy cars.
Do you have solutions to noisy tenants, neighbors, pets, or cars? I’d love to hear about them firstname.lastname@example.org
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