Couple Drags Neighbours to Court Over Bass from Sonos System

Rukshila Levelton and Michael Levelton from Langley, B.C., won a legal battle against their former neighbours, Anushka Madushan Indrasiri and Nathasha Lankeshwari Vithanage, over an incessant noise complaint originating from a Sonos sound system.

According to the case details, the issue began in February 2022 when Vithanage installed the new Sonos system at their strata complex. Despite the Leveltons’ repeated complaints about the overbearing bass, their pleas fell on deaf ears.

“It was more the bass level permeating the house and we could feel it. That’s what shook us,” said Michael Mevelton to Global News. When Rukshila texted Indrasiri about the loud bass, he responded dismissively, attributing the noise to the superior quality of his Sonos sound system and suggested that they should get used to it.

“I can’t do anything…to be honest,” said Indrasiri. He said this was because he was using a Sonos-brand system, which was “the best sound system in the world”. He then added, “You and all other neighbours have to get [used] to this system.” There was not indication of what Sonos speakers Indrasiri had, but it’s likely it included a Sonos subwoofer?

From February 5 to June 18, 2022, the couple reported 20 different instances of noise disturbances, with the bass reaching 63 decibels. “It’d be different if it was once in a while,” remarked Michael, highlighting the mental toll of the continuous, hours-long noise, which took place on Friday and Saturday evenings until 11pm. Sometimes the bass started as early as 11:30am on weekends.

The couple filed complaints with the strata manager and fines were threatened, but the issue persisted. Feeling cornered, they resorted to legal action and approached the Civil Resolution Tribunal on June 23, 2022.

Rukshila Levelton expressed their frustration, stating, “We were trying to be reasonable and do the proper processes… we had felt like we had exhausted every other way.”

Unable to bear the stress, the couple moved out of the complex in November. Strata lawyer Lisa Mackie, advising on the matter, highlighted everyone’s right to enjoy their space without significant interference.

In the end, the Tribunal sided with the Leveltons, awarding them $3,500 as damages for nuisance and $175 in fees. Michael reflected on the ordeal, saying, “When you live with it, it’s different than just hearing it once. The expectation of hearing the bass every weekend… was the worst part of it.”

Strata living can be challenging when it comes to noise. Buildings that lack the proper soundproofing or are built out of wood, transmit more noise through walls than concrete, for example. But also, the excellent Sonos Sub is the bane of every strata owner’s existence. The subwoofer pumps bass like no tomorrow, but it’s all possible to lower levels or disable it. The same goes for other Sonos speakers as well.

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