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B.C. strata owner seeks $20K in noise claim, gets $1,000

A strata owner attached speakers to the ceiling and played zombie music in response to noise.
Strata tenants say a speaker was connected to the ceiling, with "bad annoying sounds like someone banging" coming through.

A Metro Vancouver strata resident has been awarded $1,000 in her noise claim against her strata corporation — a long way from the $20,125 she claimed in damages.

Eun Kyung Ahn told B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal she has been subjected to unreasonable noise since the current tenants moved into the unit directly above unit 213.

She told tribunal member Micah Carmody the strata failed to investigate her noise complaints and enforce its noise bylaws.

Carmody said the strata took too long to investigate complaints, did not take sufficient investigative steps, had no rational basis for concluding that the bylaws were not contravened and violated Ahn’s reasonably held expectation that her complaints would be investigated.

“I find the strata was significantly unfair to Ms. Ahn,” Carmody ruled.

Ahn also sought an order that the strata enforce its noise bylaws against the upstairs unit tenants, investigate that unit, cancel $400 in bylaw contravention fines the strata imposed against her and not impose future fines.

For its part, the strata said it investigated Ahn’s noise complaints and concluded there was no unreasonable noise and its noise bylaws were not contravened. The strata denied it caused any damage or loss to Ahn and said Carmody should dismiss the claim.

“It also says Ms. Ahn admitted to contravening the strata’s bylaws,” Carmody said in the March 28 decision.

Ahn first complained of noise in July 2021.

“She said since June 1, the tenants had been making noise that included children running and yelling, adults stomping, and people throwing, dropping, rolling and moving heavy things on the hard-surface floor,” Carmody said.

She complained of extreme stress, heart palpitations, anxiety, headache, indigestion, sleep deprivation, tiredness and poor concentration.

She made further complaints in August. Carmody found the strata did not acknowledge the first three complaints. By her fourth complaint, Ahn was told council had “deemed the noise to not be a bylaw infraction.”

A strata employee followed up, asking when the council president and another council member could visit to hear the noise. Ahn identified some evenings that worked for her, but the employee did not respond, and no one attended.

Soon, Ahn made her fifth complaint. “She attached audio recordings that I find recorded muffled children’s voices and the thumping of footsteps,” Carmody said.

Shortly after, Ahn said, there was laughing, singing, banging and running until 11:30 p.m. Ahn also said the tenants used their washer and dryer until midnight on two consecutive nights. The decision said she began using a noise meter phone app and found excessive noise.

By December, Ahn was posting noise videos publicly on YouTube. Her complaints continued into 2022.

“The noise log submitted in this dispute includes entries for nearly every day from Jan. 1, 2022 to May 5, 2022,” Carmody said.

In January 2022, Ahn took matters into her own hands; that action netted her a bylaw fine.

The upstairs tenants wrote to the strata, saying that Ahn had connected a speaker to the ceiling and played a variety of zombie music and "bad annoying sounds like someone banging.” They also alleged Ahn had spoken profanities through the speaker.

She was fined $400 for nuisance and harassment.

Eventually, on Oct. 17, 2022, one strata council member stood in Ahn’s unit with a sound meter while another council member was in the unit upstairs. They reported hearing noise from loud talking but concluded the tenants were not making excessive noise.

Carmody found there was no effective investigation of the first four complaints and that it conducted no noise testing until 15 months after the first complaint.
The strata’s assertion there was no unreasonable noise was not supported by its own testing, the tribunal said.

Carmody said a fair and prompt strata investigation would have alleviated the situation and prevented Ahn from having to live with months of frustration.

“I find this entitles Ms. Ahn to damages,” Carmody said in awarding the $1,000.

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