Tenancy Advice - Quiet Enjoyment

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Tenancy Problems - Quiet Enjoyment

Q: Hi,
I recently moved in to a two bedroom apartment with a roomate. We both love the apartment but are considering breaking our lease and moving due to noisy neighbors. They live above us and, unknown to me when I moved in, their living room is right above my bedroom. I can frequently (pretty much daily) hear their conversation and television up until anywhere from midnight to 2:30am. Also, they walk around in the apartment a lot, at all times of day and night, often with their shoes on on hardwood floors.
As a tenant, do I have any rights to quiet at any certain times? If yes, and we break the lease due to these rights not being met are we still required to pay the penalty for breaking the lease?
A: Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of the rental premises, but this doesn't mean that landlords must provide a soundproof suite or regulate when and what tenants can do in their own suites. Having an apartment upstairs with hardwood floors is indeed noisy, and even aggravating, but there isn't much you can do about it I'm afraid. You might ask the people upstairs to use carpet runners, and turn down the TV, and speak more softly, but I doubt it will have much lasting effect.
If you entered into a fixed term tenancy (lease) then you have a contract, and you are obliged to fulfill the terms of that contract for the full period of the contract. If you want out of the contract you'll have to find someone to take it over, or you could strike a deal with the landlord and end it by consent.
As an aside, there was a Vancouver case where the tenant complained of 'tap, tap, tapping'on hardwood floors coming from above his apartment, and at all hours of the day and night. The downstairs tenant swore the upstairs tenant was running some weird kind of tap dancing school. An investigation by the building manager turned up a real, live, milking she-goat, which the tenant was keeping in the apartment because he was allergic to cow's milk!


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