Dealing with noisy neighbors

Particularly in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. For those that aren’t aware, we have laws against noise polluters. If you have a neighbor that is causing a noise nuisance, you can phone the non-emergency Richmond RCMP line and ask them to go and give you assistance against the criminals. This includes any excessive constant noise. For example:

– constant barking dogs
– constant construction noise
– loud music
– parties
– yelling, screaming, thumping

Here is the City of Richmond bylaws pertaining to noise pollution you can download: Public Health Protection – Bylaw 6989 (2000) – you will need either Adobe Acrobat Reader or FoxIt Reader to open the file.

There are a number of ways you can get these annoying people to stop:

1) Formal Complaint to Strata: If you live in an apartment building or townhouse, file a formal complaint to the Strata. It is also advisable to get signatures from your other neighbors that help support your claim. Three to five other signatures would suffice.

2) Call the non-emergency for Richmond RCMP: 604-278-1212 – they will ask you what the problem is, where it is, your name, your phone number, where you live and your birth date. In most cases, they will call you for a follow-up. Persist in calling the RCMP every time your neighbor continues. Enough calls and the RCMP will issue a fine on behalf of the city. Fines start at $100 going up to $2000 per offense.

Also, don’t forget to tell the RCMP the gate code, so they can ring in and come inside.

3) City of Richmond Complaint: File a formal complaint to the City of Richmond. Someone from Vancouver Coastal Health will call you. In the rare chance that a City agent emails you back saying they don’t handle these sort of complaints, respond saying that the City does and prove to them by copying the link of their complaint form back to them. Some of the City’s agents are ignorant.

City of Richmond Complaint Form
City of Richmond Noise Bylaw

*Make sure to check the “health related concerns” box.

Once the form is filled and submitted, a Vancouver Coastal Health representative will call you and talk about it. In most cases, the VCH will send out a warning to the neighbors. Ask the VCH representative to send you a copy of that warning as well.

4) Ask the Strata Chair person to assist: Alternatively, following #1, you can go directly to a Strata council member, eg: the chair person or vice chair person and ask them to go talk to the noisy neighbor.

5) Small Claims Court: In Richmond, this process is simplified for any lawsuits under $25,000. Basically, you file for a suit, show up at the Richmond court against the defendant and have a Justice of Peace present. The case lasts only an hour and the Justice will make a decision after hearing your case and the defendant’s case. You do not need a lawyer to represent you, but having one may ease some of the stress and uncertainty in moving on in the process.

I am not exactly sure if there are costs to this and I’m almost sure there is a small fee. However, you can check it out here:

Small Claims Court
Simplified Trials
What is small claims court?
Going to Trial
Guide to BC Courts

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO
– keep a journal of when the noise happens: time period, date, what happened
– keep a video recording (not an audio recording, as audio recordings apparently cannot be used in our legal system) with sound of the neighbors making noise
– keep all the letter copies of the warnings sent to the neighbors from the city or the strata
– if you can, get a transcript of all the RCMP visits/calls you’ve made

—–

I hope this has helped some of you. I’ve had to deal with three (amongst other one-time offenders) particularly troublesome neighbors in the Francisco Village townhouses from 2007 until recently. The RCMP fined one of the neighbors in late 2009 for continuously failing to submit to the complaints. The Strata finally fined one of the other neighbors earlier this year for constantly failing to heed to RCMP visits, personal visits from myself and my father, warning letters from Strata. The third neighbor was sent a warning letter by VCH and has since had manageable noise levels and have on most occasions been quiet.

Please pass this information to all your friends and family. It will help them get rid of these constant nuisances. If you let these bullies get away on the idea that they may eventually stop or that “it’s not too big of a deal” or thinking you don’t want to get involved in unnecessary problems, then you will continue to fuel the bullies’ morale and confidence. Do yourself a favor and stand up for yourself.

Leave a Reply