Superior Court awards condo owner $30,000 in noise judgment

A case made public by the Superior Court last month is a classic example of how condominium boards should respond to noise complaints from a building resident.

Fung-Ling Wong owns a condominium on Canterbury Place in Toronto. His unit shares a wall with the garbage room which contains a compactor. The room is also the endpoint of the garbage chute for all residents of the tower.

Wong purchased his unit in 2010 and immediately began experiencing loud noises at all times of the day and night. She was continually plagued by the wheezing and thud of the compactor, as well as the crashing noises and shaking caused by other homeowners dumping their trash down the chute. Worse still, she felt vibrations caused by the operation of the garbage system.

Beginning in 2011, Wong filed numerous complaints with condo management regarding noise and vibration in his unit.

Over the next few years, the council carried out sound tests and carried out some repairs. He told residents not to use the garbage chute at night.

Corrective measures were undertaken in 2018, but they were not completely successful. A company called So Quiet Soundproofing was hired to perform sound testing. He concluded that the noise was “unacceptable” causing “human discomfort” in Wong’s unit.

After further complaints, the council hired an engineering firm to conduct a peer review of the So Quiet report and recommendations, but no further action was taken.

A contracting firm was hired by the council in 2020, and their report confirmed the findings of the So Quiet report – after a 2.5 year delay.

The noise continued until early 2021, when Wong finally filed a motion in Superior Court to force the condo to remedy the noise and vibration issues and pay damages for nuisance and mental distress.

The case went to Judge Susan Vella last November and her decision was released last month. She noted that under the Condominium Act, the corporation is responsible for the upkeep, repair, operation and upkeep of the common elements. He is also required to enforce his own rules to ensure that garbage chutes are closed at night.

The judge found that the company breached its legal obligations and breached Wong’s reasonable expectations of peaceful enjoyment of his home. She also referred to what she called “board paralysis” over what to do about Wong’s ongoing complaints.

Wong based his claim in court against the company under the oppression section of the Condominium Act, asking the court to force the council to deal with his complaints.

“What stands out in this situation,” the judge wrote, “is the fact that this singular issue has remained unresolved, subject to intermittent action taken here and there, for the better part of 10 to 11 years.” She concluded that the council broke the law by forcing Wong to endure unacceptable noise and vibration.

Judge Vella ordered the council to pay Wong $30,000 in damages and to have his engineers carry out the recommended repair work.

The case provides an important lesson to other condominium boards tempted to evade their legal obligations.

Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and contributing columnist for the Star. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @bobaaron2

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