B.C. condo owner wins $2,000 damages for noises by neighbour’s toddler

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      Around June last year, condo owner Helen Tran left a note on the door of neighbours living above her.

      In the note, Tran asked them to keep the noise down.

      The woman was specifically concerned about the noises being made by the toddler there.

      The child wakes up as early as 4 a.m., runs back and forth, drops toys and stuff, all of which wakes up Tran and robs her of sleep.

      When the toddler’s father visited Tran to discuss the note, a heated discussion resulted.

      Tran later claimed before a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal that the father vowed to make more noise if she continued to complain.

      Tran, for her part, promised to continue complaining until the noise stopped.

      These and among others were recalled by tribunal member Micah Carmody, who ruled in favour of Tran in a dispute relating to the toddler’s noises.

      Tran filed a claim against the strata council of the Vancouver Island condo development where she lives.

      The parents of the toddler were not parties to the dispute, but they provided a statement to the tribunal.

      The residents, who are renting the unit above Tran, claimed that the woman was invading their privacy by making noise complaints.

      “The tenants also say they do their best to limit noise by having area rugs, limiting their toddler’s use of certain toys in the mornings, and taking him out in the afternoons when they do not work (Wednesdays and Saturdays),” Carmody wrote.

      For its part, the strata council argued that Tran was overly sensitive.

      “The strata submits that the council members found the noise to be daily living noise,” Carmody noted.

      Two strata members went to visit Tran’s unit, and the council said that they “felt that while the toddler walking ‘had moments of jarring,’ it was not unreasonable”.

      This is so “given some amount of noise is to be expected between strata lots, and toddlers do not walk smoothly”.

      Tran, for her part, kept a detailed log of the noises.

      For example, she made 117 entries on August 15, 2020 for “noise disturbances ranging from less than 5 seconds to more than 1 minute”.

      On September 19, Tran made 180 entries on her log.

      "Overall, I find Ms. Tran’s noise log is a reliable record establishing that she is frequently disturbed by the noise from unit 406,” Carmody wrote.

      Tran also submitted statements from friends and acquaintances who visited her.

      “Two witnesses said the footstep noise was loud enough to interfere with conversation,” Carmody related. “One witness who spent the night was awoken by stomping in the early morning.”

      Tran’s boyfriend also provided a statement.

      “He said he takes calls for work with a headset covering his ears and still hears the thumping,” the tribunal member wrote. “He described the noise as very annoying and distracting. He sometimes wakes from the noise to see Ms. Tran awake and upset that she cannot fall back to sleep.”

      Tran claimed that noises from the unit above her typically stop at 8 a.m. when the parents and the toddler leave.

      “She says there is also noise in evenings, every day, when the toddler returns home around 5:30 until the toddler goes to bed around 6:45 p.m,” Carmody recalled.

      In his reasons for decision, Carmody concluded that the strata did not properly address noise concerns brought to its attention by Tran.

      “Overall, I find the evidence and the strata’s submissions indicate that the strata did not approach Ms. Tran’s noise complaints with objectivity and impartiality,” Carmody wrote.

      Carmody ordered the strata, at its cost, to hire an acoustical engineer to “measure and report on impact sound transfer between” the two units, and “report on options to reduce” the noise.

      The tribunal member also directed the strata to pay Tran $2,306.03, broken down $2,000 in damages; $81.03 in prejudgment interest; and  $225.00 in tribunal fees.