DJ Spins into the CAT

We have more cases about noise from the CAT already this year. This case is interesting in that the owner did not deny that he was playing music in his unit. He admitted that he played DJ sets. Instead, he argued that he was not creating unreasonable noise and was always responsive to requests, when made, to reduce the volume of his music.

The evidence submitted by the condominium included reports by security staff and witness statements from security, the manager, and the owner of the unit above the unit. In a period of about a year and half, there were 70 complaints of noise. The evidence of the owner and manager appeared to be exaggerated according to the CAT member. For example, the manager stated that there were 94 complaints by 13 different units, but the only complaints in evidence were from the unit above the owner. This case again shows the importance of accuracy when describing the number and nature of the complaints being made.

The investigation logs showed that the majority of times when security attended at the unit they could hear loud music, but not always. The owner would turn down the music when asked but expressed frustration about being told to turn it down before 9 pm when the condominium did not have a rule about “quiet hours”. Like with other cases, The CAT member stated that the local noise by-laws were not determinative of the reasonableness of the noise, nor was the manager’s opinion that a residential unit was not an appropriate place to practice or record DJ sets.

The owner suggested that the noise was not objectively measured (i.e. there were no decibel readings) so it could not be found to be unreasonable noise. The CAT member stated that measurements “may lend weight to evidence of unreasonable noise but are not, depending on the fact situation, required.” This is great news for condominiums who want to spare themselves the costs of hiring experts to produce reports where there is an abundance of evidence from other sources. In this case, the sheer number of occasions on which the security staff were required to attend at the unit and ask him to turn it down supported the allegation of unreasonable noise.

To find the noise a nuisance, the CAT member must conclude the noise was substantial and an unreasonable interference with another owner’s quiet enjoyment. The frequency and duration of the interference was an important consideration. The time of the noise may also be a consideration. In this case, the CAT member felt that it may not have risen to the level of nuisance, but it was an annoyance as prohibited by section 117(2) and Rule 2(a) because of the number of times security had to attend and tell him to turn it down.

The condominium was successful and sought its legal costs. The condominium wrote numerous letters to the owner requesting that he comply with the rules and keep noise at minimum levels. The letters warned him that the costs would be sought from him. The CAT member awarded the condominium the cost of its two letters ($1,135.09) as well as the $200 Tribunal filing fee. With respect to the $14,521.63 sought in legal costs for the proceeding, the CAT member found the amount was not proportional to the nature and complexity of the issues in dispute. The owner’s conduct did not warrant full recovery of the costs. While he made comments in the system when he was not permitted to, these were more work for the CAT than for the lawyer for the condominium. In all the circumstances, the CAT member found it appropriate to award the condominium $4,000 for its legal costs.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the owner advised that he moved out of the unit and listed it for sale. Sometimes this is the best solution to non-compliance. I wish more owners would consider it. I appreciate there are costs involved in moving, but sometimes the condominium is not the right fit for the owner, and everyone would be better off if the owner found a condominium more suitable to their lifestyle.