Victoria's Secrets: Noisy Sex Annoys Condo Owners

Monday Magazine | August 7, 2004
Dear Ringo, Hello, I much enjoy reading your column, and would like to run my unusual situation past you for your opinion/feedback etc. I have just received a letter from my strata council, outlining a complaint from the neighbor living below me. (This is not the first time this neighbor has complained, about numerous things, to previous councils, and had to be told to back off). The letter states that they are awakened by loud, offensive, sexual noises during the night. And they expect council to take action. I am advised officially that I will be fined up to $200 for each future complaint he files. Unofficially I was advised that I should not make noise during sex, or that I should have sex elsewhere than in my home! I am dumbfounded. I knew strata councils had widespread powers, but did not know they had the power to legislate our sexual practices in our own homes, under the guise of noise violations, I suppose. Any opinion? —Precious Precious, darling, I do have many opinions on this little situation of yours, and my first opinion is that your neighbour needs desperately, painfully, urgently, to get laid. Clearly, he or she is far too lonely lying there in bed at night (or in the middle of the afternoon, or on lazy weekend mornings, whenever you get up to your noisiest mattress magic), and has nothing to occupy his or her mind but self-righteously perverted thoughts of what you might be up to. Come with me on a little journey of compassion for a moment, and think of your poor neighbour, listening in with an envious ear, while you’re busy bouncing the bongoes. And imagine what might be going through that poor little mind as you’re shouting your noisy expressions of passion. You: Oh, oh, oh gooooodd! Harder! More! Do me like a dingo, yeah, more, more, more! Neighbour: Lucky bitch. How come she gets all the fun, and I’m stuck watching Survivor? You: Whoo! Yeehah! Go, broncos! Neighbour: Damn, she’s still at it. It’s soooo not fair. Wish I could vote her off the island. You: Oh, honey, lick me up and do it again! Neighbour: Saaaaaay . . . now there’s an idea. Wonder if the strata agreement covers this kind of thing? You: Gawd, that was soooooo good! Yow! Neighbour: (thumbing through strata agreement) A $200 fine for every complaint? Mwah-hah-hah-hah-hah . . . And there you have the genesis of your situation. Now, contrary to what some condo owners might think, and contrary to how some strata council members might act, a strata council isn’t like George Orwell’s Big Brother. They might be able to force you to have window treatments that match everyone else’s, but they can’t peek in your windows to see what you’re doing behind those ecru vertical venetians, or whether you’re making all that racket with a blender, a leaf blower or a turbocharged vibrator. So no, a strata council doesn’t technically have the power to legislate what you do behind closed doors, just as the government can’t really legislate what consenting adults do together in private (thank our dear departed former prime minister Trudeau for that one). But they do have the power to make rules, and I’m of the opinion that, barring some draconian power-mad strata council president, there are some rules that are established to keep us all getting along. For example, if your condo has rules about home-based businesses, you might not be able to run an escort agency out of your living room (even if you do have a business licence and the inclination to do so). And if you live in a municipality that has strict noise bylaws, you’ve got to abide by them. In Victoria, for example, if you’re in a so-called ”quiet zone” (most residential areas), you’re not allowed to make any noise in the daytime that is above 55 decibels, or at nighttime above 45 decibels, measured at a distance of five meters. Of course, the trick is, your neighbour (who may well be even less than five meters away, given that he’s living directly under your bed/floor/kitchen counter) would need to sit in his apartment with a decibel meter to get a good reading, or call up the city’s bylaw enforcement officer to come and document your coital commotion, and while I don’t know exactly how loud you can get, I’m guessing you’re going to come long before the bylaw enforcement officer does (which, by the way, is in no way intended to be a speculation about the prowess of Victoria’s bylaw enforcement officers). Ultimately, complaints of this nature come down to your neighbour’s word against yours, and that’s hardly a nice thing for a strata council to have to address, because it makes all the neighbours feel disinclined to attend the condo’s next ice cream social. So darling (and let me put it to you gently), these rules are for everyone’s benefit, even yours. You need to get along with the other kids if you want to stay in the playground, if you know what I mean. Your sexually frustrated (and admittedly frustrating) neighbour could take up electric guitar and practice only during the times when you’re just basking in your afterglow, and you’d have every right to complain about him, too. Or, say he finally gets some action (guitar players are the sexiest, after all). If he starts to do some duvet duets of his own just when you’ve broken up with someone and you’re dabbing a little healing KY on your wounded heart, for example, well, you might just discover that you’ve got a teensy bit more sympathy for his currently uptight butt. Or maybe he’s just hurt that you haven’t asked him to join in your fun. Remember what Granny Wilde always said—if you don’t want the neighbours to complain, remember to invite them to the party.

Monday Magazine

Founded in 1975 to provide a critical voice in Victoria's political and cultural communities, Monday Magazine continues to shake British Columbia's conservative capital city with tell-it- like-it-is features and reviews. Targeting educated, active adults and Victoria's growing youth market, Monday...
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