Noisy neighbours? How noise complaints work in Toronto

By Realestate Condos Team on March 15th, 2019

If you’ve lived in Toronto for any number of years, there’s no doubt you’ll feel the sense of community that envelops you once you’ve settled into your neighbourhood.

In some buildings, you may get to know your neighbours, or you may not. Usually, you won’t know you have a noisy neighbour on your hands until you’re trying to get some nice rest and relaxation in your unit.

So, what happens when that calm community is disturbed by random spurts of noisy neighbours or construction work? Is there anything you can do?

If the noise is coming out of nowhere, and your neighbour hasn’t given you any notice of a birthday or anniversary, you have the right to say something.

Defining noise

“Noise” has a pretty broad definition under Toronto’s Municipal Code (Chapter 591, Articles I & II). Noise, or “any unwanted sound” is generally prohibited in Toronto through this bylaw.

The code states that “No person shall make, cause or permit noise or vibration, at any time, which is likely to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the inhabitants of the City.”

This bylaw impacts both private (residential) and public (municipal) spaces. Loudspeakers, construction work and major transit projects have restrictions concerning how much noise they can make during specific times of the day.

Time and location restrictions

Generally, loudspeakers or electronic devices that make noise beyond property, lot, or unit lines are prohibited by the bylaw, especially if the noise extends into “any street or public place”. Loud music is prohibited between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Construction and transit project noise in quiet or residential zones is only permitted between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. while transit projects can emit noise between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. with a few exceptions that happen on a project-by-project basis.

If the types of noises detailed above are bothering you, the City urges you to call 311 or submit a service request online.

Noisy neighbours

Now, if the noise is due to one of your neighbours hosting a noisy party, participating in illegal activities, violence, not taming their dog, or anything else that risks public safety and/or infringes on the enjoyment of your space, the City wants you to contact the Toronto Police.

However, the City suggests you contact your landlord or property manager in writing before contacting city services. If things haven’t been rectified in an adequate timeframe, and the noise is ongoing, you can then contact 311 or Toronto Police with the noise complaint. Keep a record of all communications.

To help any investigation, it’s recommended that you provide the exact street address where the unwanted noise is coming from, also known as the 'point of reception'. If the complaint is found to be valid, the neighbours and/or property owner will be sent a Notice stating that they are disturbing their neighbours. There is the possibility of further legal action if the noises do not cease.