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B.C. tribunal dismisses strata patio soundproofing dispute

A B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal member said the strata had done what was asked of it to investigate and fix problems with a patio.
In his Civil Resolution Tribunal claim, a B.C. man said he was unable to go to sleep from alleged patio noise beneath his unit.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a complaint from a Vancouver man alleging intolerable noise due to poor patio soundproofing.

Paul Morgan owned a unit directly below a common property patio. The patio, while common property, can only be accessed through another unit and was used exclusively by that unit’s owners and occupants.

Morgan alleged patio noise due to a lack of soundproofing caused “significant and intolerable noise,” tribunal member Leah Volkers said in a March 9 decision.

Morgan said he’s complained about the patio noise since 2007. He claims the strata has refused to investigate his complaints, enforce its bylaws, or maintain the common property patio as required by the Strata Property Act (SPA). 

He asked the tribunal for $5,000 in damages and for orders the strata hire a professional acoustic engineer or consultant to inspect levels when the patio is in use and install noise-reduction material below the patio.

The strata, meanwhile, said it “has made best efforts” to comply with its obligations under the SPA and its own bylaws.

Volkers said the strata had hired an engineer so that issue was resolved.

Morgan’s lawyer had written to the strata about “pounding, hammering and thumping while the resident was walking on the patio, thunderous sounds while dragging furniture, and the sound of a television and sound system.”

The strata manager sent a June 2021 letter to Morgan advising the strata had determined that the noises from the patio were “regular daily living and structural noises that are not unusual nor amplified noises for a wood-frame, multi-residential building.”

The alleged noises continued and the strata asked Morgan to create a log.

In August 2021, the strata agreed to examine the situation and a re-alignment of the patio deck was suggested. Further work was also done.

The next month, Morgan complained of noise from several people on the patio, and said it was preventing him from going to sleep.

Ten days later, the strata said repairs were completed. Soon after, Morgan filed his tribunal complaint.

Morgan said the strata failed to investigate his complaints or take any action to enforce the bylaws and address the alleged patio noise. He claimed that failure was significantly unfair.

“I find Mr. Morgan had an objectively reasonable expectation that the strata would reasonably investigate his complaints and enforce its bylaws,” Volkers said.

However, Volkers said, Morgan’s complaint was about the lack of soundproofing material, and that the patio causes noise. She said it was, therefore, not about those using the patio and the strata failing to use enforcement options against those people.

She said the SPA only provides for enforcement of contraventions by such people.

“I find Mr. Morgan has not identified any failure on the strata’s part to enforce the bylaws,” Volkers said. “Therefore, I also find the strata was not significantly unfair in enforcing its bylaws.”

Volkers found the strata had taken steps to address the issue.

“I find overall the strata reasonably investigated Mr. Morgan’s complaints based on the evidence before me,” she said. “I find the strata was not significantly unfair in how it responded to Mr. Morgan’s noise complaints.”

The claim was dismissed.

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