If you live in a strata complex you don’t have to love your neighbours or even like them but you do have to treat them properly according to your rules.

Recently a judge ordered a family in a strata complex in Surrey to sell their unit and move.  This family had been the subject of hundreds of complaints by their neighbours for noise, rude language and harassment.  When warning letters and fines by the strata corporation didn’t work the Owners took the offending family to court and convinced the judge that they had had enough.  The judge gave the family 90 days to sell their unit and if it wasn’t sold in 90 days then conduct of the sale would go to the Owners, meaning that they could lower the price in order to sell it. The decision referred to above is the first time in BC a family has actually been ordered to sell their unit and move as a result of violating strata bylaws.

If you have ever lived in a strata complex you will know that there is almost always at least one resident who takes up just a little more space than everyone else.  The usual complaints revolve around fairly mundane issues such as noise, parking and pets.  Mundane, but they affect the quality of life where you want quality the most – your home.

Every strata will have a set of bylaws and rules regarding things like noise, parking and pets.  If those bylaws and rules are themselves unreasonable or unfair they can be amended – either by the Owners at a general meeting or by the court.  If an owner breaks the bylaws or rules the strata council can issue warnings and levy fees.  Unpaid fees can be registered against title to the offending owner’s unit.  The next step for the Owners is to take the offending owner to court, usually for an injunction to prevent the offending conduct.

The judge in this case, The Owners Strata Plan LMS2768 v. Jordison, made specific reference to the strata rules and said “The Jordisons cannot be permitted, through their harassment and abuse of fellow strata members, to disrupt the integrity of the common scheme offered by the Strata.  The bylaws and rules of the Strata, when properly constituted, form a framework of behavioural decency accepted by the Strata’s members, breaches of which can lead to action by the Strata to enforce adherence by strata members to the provisions of the Act, its regulations, the bylaws and the rules.”

What if you do not live in a strata but have similar issues in your neighbourhood?  There are no neighbourhood rules and no strata council to handle your complaints.  You still have municipal bylaws and bylaw breaches can be enforced by the municipality.  You also have the law of nuisance.  The word “nuisance” sound like something petty but it refers to activities that interfere with the quiet enjoyment of your property.  See Matthew Ostrow’s blog “Love Thy Noisy Neighbour” October 30, 2011 for more details.

If you would like to read the full decision in The Owners v. Jordison go to http://www.canlii.org and search by the case name.  This is a free service operated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.