There is an experiment underway in the Sandy Hill section of Ottawa.
Through a pilot program dubbed Noise In Sandy Hill, local lawmakers are seeking to quell noise complaints by involving landlords.
Currently, only a tenant has to answer for a noise complaint. Landlords are not notified when problems are occurring at the property. That means a landlord may remain in the dark despite multiple violations by their tenants.
The pilot program offers those complaining about noise the option of also notifying a property owner, so that the landlord can take action to avoid continuing problems. That action could include anything from a discussion with the tenants to filing for eviction. Action is not mandatory, and there are no penalties.
That may be because it’s not practical to order landlords to evict tenants who violate local noise ordinances. The eviction process in Ontario is sluggish, and even if a landlord brings a case to the LTB, there is no guarantee that they can prove a tenant’s actions amount to a breach of the law or the tenancy agreement.
As in many college towns, many noise complaints occur in rental properties, and revolve around student parties. Local attorney John Dickie explains in a video-taped interview that often alcohol is to blame. People who have been drinking may not realize they are being too loud.
Students describe parties they have attended in Sandy Hill where 40, 60 or even hundreds of people have gathered. “There is always a party somewhere downtown in Sandy Hill,” explains one student.
Related concerns involve overcrowding of student rental units. One student describes as “gross” a situation where the living areas in a house had been converted into makeshift bedrooms. Another revealed her building has an “open door policy” where anyone is invited to walk in and join the party.
But these students admit that they, too, prefer quieter conditions, even if that means moving a little farther from the campus.
Sandy Hill residents have indicated that noise complaints are a significant concern. Yet, local police will begin to refer these complaints to bylaw officers beginning April 1, according to a recent news report.
It’s too early to determine if Noise In Sandy Hill is a success, but clearly landlords stand to benefit from being informed about what goes on in their rental properties.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.