Resolving condo conflicts

Resolving condo conflicts

We’re not always blessed with perfect neighbours. In fact, some neighbours can be downright frustrating. If your neighbour is driving you to distraction, then these tips may help you steer clear of conflict and the courts.

Condo living is all about learning to live with others

Condo life is not for everyone because the proximity to neighbours can be irritating.

Living in a condo means having to respect others, compromising and understanding that individual preferences must often be set aside for the benefit of the community.

The road to harmony

1. Know your condo rules

Read the condo rules (also called a condo charter or co-ownership agreement). This document outlines all the rules that co-owners are expected to abide by, as well as the applicable sections of the civil code (in Quebec).

When in doubt, speak with a member of the condo owners association board. Explain the situation without necessarily identifying the culprit.

Can co-ownership rules be changed?

Circumstances change and so can co-ownership rules.

Check with the condo owners association to see if rules can be added or amended to avoid ambiguity.

Discuss the issue at a condo owners meeting. If a high enough percentage of owners vote in favour of the new rule, it may be added to the ownership agreement.

These changes don’t have to be rubber-stamped but they do have to comply with the law.

2. Be civil to each other

For the sake of good relations, talk calmly to your neighbour about what’s bothering you.

Use the ownership rules to make your point objectively.

Don’t attempt a discussion if you’re upset. Wait until you calm down to avoid tempers flaring out of hand.

It’s all too easy to start pointing fingers, so keep things under control and try to reach a compromise.

3. Discuss the matter with a member of the condo owners association board

If after talking to your neighbour several times, you don’t see any improvement in their behaviour, then you could try to bring the issue up with a member of the condo owners association to see if they have a solution.

However, the role of the board is not to enforce the rules.

Noise, noise and more noise

If the issue is noise, you will have to find the cause in order to eliminate the problem.

The solution will depend on the problem, like if the building is poorly soundproofed or if your neighbour’s renovations are noncompliant.

Hardwood floors tend to be noisy. The COA board may have the flooring inspected for compliance with noise requirements and even require soundproofing work at the disruptive person’s expense.

If the noise is the result of your neighbour’s behaviour, the condo administration will not intervene.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as absolute silence and you will have to compromise.

4. Use a mediator

If the situation persists and condo rules continue to be violated, you can always call on a mediator.

The idea is to find a solution that works for both of you without conflict.

It is less costly than going to court and is often mediated by a lawyer or notary.

If the dispute reaches Small Claims Court, the judge will make the final decision.

Ultimately, the objective is to encourage respectful exchanges and find a satisfactory solution.

5. Send a formal notice

If after mediation, nothing changes, you can send your neighbour and the condo association a formal notice.

A formal notice is a letter (two copies: one for you and one for your neighbour) that you can draft yourself or with the help of a lawyer.

The notice is sent by registered mail and orders your neighbour to change their behaviour, respect the condominium rules, to pay compensation, etc. within a specified time frame.

Hopefully, the notice will get your point across and the neighbour will stop. Although, in many cases, you’ll be required to go to court.

6. Going to court

If your neighbour has not responded to your notice and continues with the disruptive behaviour, you have 2 options: take them to court or drop the whole thing.

You can also hire a lawyer and sue your neighbour.

Note: This blog post is provided for information purposes only. In no way should it be considered as sound legal advice. For advice specific to your personal situation, always speak with your lawyer. SSQ Insurance cannot be held responsible for any decision made as a result of reading this blog post.