Do you have difficult neighbours? They probably aren’t as bad as Burnaby couple, ordered this week to pay thousands of dollars in fines for allegedly screaming at neighbours and smearing dog-doo on people’s doors.
But while it rarely gets that bad, that doesn’t mean it’s easy – particularly in a dense, condo heavy community like Metro Vancouver.
So how do you deal with bad neighbours?
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director of the Condo Homeowners Association of B.C. says it can be tough.
Gioventu says while people are generally civil, he has seen things turn nasty – as in the case of one person who purposely flooded their apartment to get back at their downstairs neighbour.
He says that’s the extreme case, but it’s easy for things to escalate.
“Just think about it, if you’re a light sleeper, or you have a neighbour next door who decides they’re going to make noise every night, somebody who gets on their exercise machine at three in the morning and its above your bedroom, that kind of stuff wears you down after a while. And it really makes the relationships quite raw between the parties, and the confrontations start to elevate.”
But Gioventu says often these problems just affect one or a few people, meaning getting them solved can be tricky as a strata council might not want to get involved, especially if it involves going to court.
He says a three-quarters majority of owners is needed to pull together the cash for legal applications.
“It’s expensive, its timely, and its often very difficult to get your strata council to take that step.”
Another problem can be if fines or orders are levied, but the problem neighbour just won’t stop doing whatever it is they’re doing.
Gioventu says there’s a two year limitation, meaning if Council does nothing, it may not be able to collect.
Does it sometimes feel like these are your upstairs neighbours?
Help on the way
But Gioventu says there’s good news on the way for condo owners.
He says next fall, a new Civil Resolution Tribunal comes into effect that could help owners resolve problems without going to court.
And he says it will allow strata councils to act, even when they can’t get a majority vote from owners.
“[It] is actually going to give a place for Strata councils, without needing the consent of their owners, to be able to go to the tribunal to get decisions and orders against owners, to get them to stop doing things they’re doing, make them do things they should be doing, or to pay fines and penalties.”
Gioventu says the tribunal will also help in the case of absentee owners, bad tenants or AirBnB problems, as it will put owners on the hook for expenses incurred when problems crop up.