landlord and tenant dispute
March 11, 2012 4:35 PM   Subscribe

It's 7:30 on a Sunday night and my landlord has contractors varnishing the floors of the downstairs apartment. It is filling the house with a noxious odour and loud banging noises. I live on the top floor of a house with two other apartments below in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We were not informed that there would be workmen in the building. Is he within his rights to have contractors doing work at this hour?
posted by dazed_one to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You are owed a notice if work will occur in your apartment, but not others. As long as the workers are obeying noise laws et cetera, you're probably stuck.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:55 PM on March 11, 2012

Best answer: I don't know about Ontario noise and repair ordinances, but sometimes some buildings have their own rules. Mine does not allow repair work to be done on Sunday (though I don't know if they really enforce that or I just haven't seen much work done on Sundays).

Call your landlord and ask. Ask also if you can see if you can get a plan for the repairs, so you can get a heads up how long this will go on, and what else to expect. And it doesn't hurt to ask if you can knock a little off your rent if it's going to continue - you may not get a credit, but no harm in asking.
posted by raztaj at 5:15 PM on March 11, 2012

You can check with the landlord; if he's not onsite he may have no idea they are there at this time. Or he may know and has been waiting for them to show up for days and isn't going to send them away. But there's probably a couple of hours to go before nighttime noise ordinances kick in; it sucks but it's probably not breaking any laws.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:21 PM on March 11, 2012

Best answer: Well, a call to your landlord would not be amiss.

Construction-type noise is not allowed on Sundays in Toronto without a special permit. I am a stickler for this in our neighbourhood. Our neighbours all work it out when it comes to home repairs very well amongst ourselves on Sundays; but with so many new developments in the neighbourhood, none of us can bear the heavy machinery before or after the assigned hours, and we all call so there's a record. In the future, 311 will patch you through.

Noise Control

The Noise Bylaw (Chapter 591, City of Toronto Municipal Code) permits operation of construction equipment ONLY during Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and no construction noise on Sundays and statutory holidays (amending by-law 505-2006).

Even during periods when construction is permitted, noise levels should be minimized as much as possible out of consideration for your neighbours. This is an important part of being a good neighbour.

However, Bylaw Officers are not on duty now either. This I know from having had to call about construction noise in the past. You probably don't want to go that far anyway. The fine is usually about $3600, and depending on what the work is costing him, it may be worth the fine anyway. But you don't want to go that far over a floor being refinished, do you? This seems annoying, and minor. The bylaw office will follow up with phone calls the next day, if you really press them. It's useless at the time, and only worth pursuing when you have a developer that's a truly bad neighbour and he's taking advantage and you want to cost him money (ahem).

In this case, let your landlord know it's smelly and loud - don't assume malice, he just may not be aware. Ask if there's "some consideration" he can offer you - and request a heads up about anything in the future. And maybe hint that you're aware there shouldn't be any contracting-type work done on a Sunday, let alone at this time, so you were surprised. Right?
posted by peagood at 5:49 PM on March 11, 2012

Response by poster: Well, the smell of varnish is pretty brutal right now. It's given me a pretty bad headache. I've got all the windows wide open and had to bust out all my oscillating fans even though it's 5 degrees outside. The contractors left at 9 pm.

My girlfriend advised we don't start a war over this and there doesn't seem to be much I can do right now, but with each throb of my head I'm getting more angry. Relationship with the landlord isn't great to begin with; he's a new landlord (bought the building a few months ago) and tried to slap a 30% rent increase on us which I put the kibosh on by quoting the landlord tenant act at him. Now I'm worried he's doing things like this to try and get us to leave.

Thanks for the advice guys. Going to try and sleep now, got work in the morning, although this damn smell is going to make it rough.
posted by dazed_one at 8:07 PM on March 11, 2012

Send him a poliute message in the morning telling him that the varnish smell was quite overpowering, so would he mind doing any further painting/varnishing during a weekday (when you're at work) and also giving you advance notice.

Now I'm worried he's doing things like this to try and get us to leave.

Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:50 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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