Guide to Being a Landlord #8: Dealing with Noisy and Disruptive Tenants

This article is an edited extract from
Michael Drouillard,Self-Counsel Press
April 25, 2016

Landlording in Canada Kit by Michael Drouillard, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. To download the full e-book or for more information, click here

If the tenants are unreasonably noisy, they are in breach of their rental agreement and can be evicted. However, it can be challenging to evict a tenant for noise, since one person’s noise is another person’s music.

Let’s consider some scenarios.

Noise Complaints When You Live With Your Tenant

Maybe you live upstairs from your tenant, and it’s you who is being disturbed by late-night noise. How should you handle it?

Even if you send warning letters and maintain written records documenting the “what” and the “when” of the noise, the dispute often comes down to your word versus the tenant’s. Convincing a judge will be fraught with uncertainty, if it were to get that far.

Instead, consider getting on the phone and negotiating an agreement with the tenant. Expect your screened tenant to be reasonable and receptive to negotiation. If they are not, you are within your rights to give them a written warning, and ultimately to evict them for breaching the noise disturbance clause in their tenancy agreement.

(Useful BC Residential Tenancy forms, including tenancy agreements and application forms for dispute resolution, can be found here.)

Noise Complaints from Your Tenant’s Neighbour

You might receive a complaint from a neighbouring house or apartment about your tenant’s loud parties or about other disruptive behaviour. This neighbour might expect that you will evict your tenant based on these allegations.

Don’t get drawn into mediating, however tempting it may be. The neighbour is an adult and should be able to resolve the problem themselves.

However, if you receive third-party confirmation of unreasonable noise from law enforcement or municipal authorities, or if your unit is a condo and you receive a warning letter from the strata corporation, then you need to get involved.

Take appropriate measures to end the noise by giving your tenant fair warning, and evict the tenant if necessary. This protects your interests because, if the municipality or the condominium corporation decides to impose a fine, it could be charged directly to you.

Noise Complaints by Your Tenant Against a Neighbour

Again, refuse to play mediator. Tell both parties that you expect them to work it out between themselves.

However, if your rental property is part of a condominium corporation, you might need to get involved. In such a case, a complaint to the strata council might be required. For instance, if your tenant is complaining that the owner of the suite above them uses a treadmill at two in the morning, this is what you do:

  • Show your tenant how to develop evidence to support the complaint. They could document the time and day when the noise is problematic.
  • Advise the tenant not to confront the neighbour in person.
  • Send a complaint letter with the evidence to the strata or condominium corporation management. Ask your tenant to be patient while the strata corporation fines the neighbour into submission.
  • Continue to be supportive of your tenant. If you don’t, your tenant might move prematurely, and might even have grounds to break lease without penalty.