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Monday May 25 2020


The quote “Hell is other people” is a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre.  It struck me while I was reading an excellent article on the Deveau Avocats website. ” CONFINEMENT DO TO COVID-19: WHAT ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH NEIGHBORS IN A CO-OWNERSHIP? ”. It sums up the options well in relation to one of the issues which is currently accentuated by the fact that co-owners have been confined to the house since last March. Although the relaxing of confinement rules has begun, many people still work from home and it is therefore crucial to be respectful towards each other and to adopt simple actions to minimize the impact noise and airborne noise: 

  1. take off your shoes (especially high heels) in the condo;
  2. limit the sound level of music or television;
  3. avoid the use of a ”Subwoofer”;
  4. do not slam the doors;
  5. ensure that slide-pads are present under the kitchen chairs;
  6. limit noisy small manual jobs and do them at reasonable hours;
  7. avoid children running inside;
  8. go outside to get some fresh air to calm down instead of noisily arguing in the condo.

Preliminary steps to try to resolve the situation 

It is important to know that depending on the nature of the noise, the approach to resolving the issue will be different (human actions (lifestyle, chicanery, pets, children, etc.), acoustic issues (poor quality work, poorly installed flooring, materials of low acoustic quality, etc.), noise external to the building (factory, train, etc.)). However, in our opinion, in order to avoid damaging human relations between the residents of the building, the first steps always remain the same, namely:

  1. The noise annoyed co-owner should go and talk to their noisy neighbor (at least twice), because often people are in good faith and do not realize that they are making noise;
  2. The syndicate can be notified, and it can discuss with the co-owner at the origin of the noise and transmit a letter to formalize the observations and the advancement of the things.

When people do not collaborate, it might be good to pass on to them the December 11, 2018 judgment which imposed a penalty of $ 15,000 on a noisy co-owner. This could make them realize that living in co-ownership involves obligations and that although co-owners must accept the normal inconveniences of the neighborhood, there are limits that should not be exceeded.

When the situation is not resolved

So, there are other measures that should be taken to encourage resolution, such as:

  1. if the noises are significant and/or at unreasonable hours, 911 can be notified by the co-owner who is the victim of the noise and the police could intervene (e.g. the piano played all day long can be a source of noise, even if the pianist is talented);
  2. when the issue is linked to human or animal actions, it is possible to initiate a mediation process with the stakeholders to agree on a solution;
  3. if there is a tenant, consider asking the owner to break the lease, and if he does not want to, contact the housing authority when the declaration of co-ownership allows (this is usually the case);
  4. if the hard flooring is problematic, have an acoustic test to determine if it complies with the declaration of co-ownership and if this is not the case, consult a lawyer for its remedies
  5. etc.

When you are faced with a particular case, discuss it around you or with your manager or board of directors, because sometimes people have good ideas. Since noise is intangible and often a question of perception, it is sometimes necessary to “get out of the box” to resolve the situation. Sometimes, it is also necessary to show compromise on both sides and agree on appropriate schedules for the noise period for example (in the case of my pianist taken as an example in point 1 this resolved the situation). If you are short of ideas or think you have tried everything, then it is time to consult a lawyer.

Alternative resolution process: mediation and arbitration

As there are many possible scenarios in terms of noise pollution, we invite you to consult a lawyer when the situation persists, and you cannot have the cooperation of the co-owners. For our part, as manager, we strongly encourage you to initiate a process of discussion with your neighbor and possibly mediation, then arbitration if necessary. Many declarations of co-ownership require both sides to try to resolve the disputes in this way before starting a more expensive legal process, such as an injunction for example.

Here is a list of several lawyers and notaries who specialize in mediation and arbitration.   Also, we invite you to consult Me Jean-François Gendron who is missing from the previous list, but who also specializes in mediation and arbitration in co-ownership and which we have used with satisfaction a few times at SolutionCondo.

Finally, Me Stefania Chianetta has been talking for many years about these conflict resolution processes which are much less costly and stressful for all stakeholders and we therefore invite you to read her texts:

Élise Beauchesne, CPA, CA, Adm.A




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