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Noise from muscle car at centre of dispute between townhouse owners, strata

The Mustang logo is seen in this file photo. (diamant24/Shutterstock.com) The Mustang logo is seen in this file photo. (diamant24/Shutterstock.com)
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A long-running dispute over the "excessive engine revving and idling noise" of a Mustang has been settled by B.C.'s small claims tribunal.

According to a decision posted online Tuesday, townhouse owners Elise Hebein and Albert Hebein brought the complaint to the Civil Resolution Tribunal, disputing the bylaw fines levied by the strata council over the noise from the muscle car – which belongs to their grandson.

The strata, for its part, argued that the fines were valid because "the Mustang’s engine revving noise is excessive, and has caused a nuisance to other strata residents," according to the tribunal's decision.

The strata council first contacted the couple about the vehicle's noise in July of 2020, sending them a letter saying that it had received complaints about the engine noise as well as "noise from car maintenance tools and loud music from the Mustang’s stereo," the decision says.

That letter cited the by-law against nuisance and unreasonable noise, and warned that a fine may be imposed.

Roughly six months later, the strata sent another letter – this time telling the Hebeins that the Mustang could not be parked on strata property and had to be "exclusively parked on public streets” until it had an "effective exhaust system” to tamper the engine noise, according to the decision.

Three weeks after that came a warning that a fine would be imposed if the Mustang was driven or parked on the strata's property. Two weeks later – on April 14, 2021 – the first fine was imposed, with the strata saying the Mustang had been driven onto the property "causing 'unnecessary noise'" multiple times.

Tribunal member Kate Campbell found that this fine was invalid and should not have been charged.

"There is no bylaw that permits the strata to prohibit driving or parking any vehicle on strata property. The strata has no parking bylaw, and no other bylaw or rule that authorizes it to bar the Mustang. So, I find the strata was not entitled to do so, and cannot fine the Hebeins for not obeying that directive," she wrote.

Further, even if the strata had fined the couple for breaching the noise and nuisance bylaw – the strata provided no evidence that the noise from the car "was sufficiently loud to constitute a substantial, non-trivial, and unreasonable interference with use and enjoyment of property."

The strata subsequently fined the Hebeins three more times – $100 in October of 2021, $200 in April of 2022 and $200 in September of 2022.

The tribunal ordered those fines to be reversed as well, finding they were also imposed because the Mustang was on the property which was not a violation of an actual bylaw.

The Hebeins were also asking the tribunal to order the strata to stop "sending them complaints and imposing fines against them." Campbell declined to make that order, saying "the strata has an ongoing duty to enforce its bylaws, including noise and nuisance bylaws."

  

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