How do I appeal a decision of my strata council?
I live in a very quiet condo. The owner above me applied to put an air conditioner on their terrace directly above mine and close to my bedroom door and windows. Against my wishes, the strata council granted the request. Can I appeal their decision?
A strata council has a duty to balance the needs of all unit owners. In this case, there’s a tension between one owner’s interest in having a cool residence and another’s desire for peace and quiet. If your strata council has reached a decision on the issue that you consider to be unfair, you have options.
Look to your strata’s bylaws
If the noise from your upstairs neighbour’s air conditioner is causing you grief, have a look at your strata’s bylaws. Many stratas have bylaws that prohibit owners from using their unit in a way that causes unreasonable noise for other people. Even if there’s nothing in the bylaws, the general law of nuisance protects you from unreasonable interference with your use and enjoyment of your property.
Kindly remind your neighbour of the bylaw, if there is one on point. Describe the impact the disturbance is having on you. Try to suggest options for minimizing the noise, such as limiting the use of the air conditioner to certain times of day. If that doesn’t work, you can get your strata council involved.
One option is to follow up with your strata council in writing. Describe your concerns. Explain the steps you’ve taken to try to resolve the problem with your neighbour. If possible, provide evidence. For example, note the frequency of the disturbance and try to get a recording showing how loud it is.
BC law says that strata councils have a duty to enforce strata bylaws and make fair and reasonable decisions. If they don’t investigate your complaint or if they fail to enforce the noise bylaw, you may be able to get an order compelling them to do so. In some cases, they may also have to pay you compensation. This guidance on noise and neighbours describes options for strata residents dealing with noise.
Appealing the strata council’s decision
If taking an informal approach doesn’t work, you can consider more formal steps. For a wide variety of strata disputes, you can appeal a decision of the strata council to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This is an online tribunal that operates like a court, but it’s less expensive and time-consuming. And you can do it yourself — you don’t have to hire a lawyer. For a closer look at what’s involved, see this guidance on dealing with your strata.