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CCOC Decision Summary

#265-O, Yeilding v. Parkside Condominium (June 30, 1995) (Panel: Savage, Huson, Glancy)

The condominium owner (CO) challenged a ruling of his condominium association (CA) that he must use earphones when playing his stereo system after 9 pm, not play his stereo so loudly that it could be heard in other units, and pay a $15 fine.

At the hearing, there was testimony of several complaints made by CA residents against the CO for noise, that the CA held a hearing on the complaints, and that after the hearing it fined the CO and issued an order limiting his use of his stereo system.  There were several witnesses who testified against the CO.  The CO testified he used a sound meter and that the sound was under 55 decibels, which is the County's legal standard; however, he also admitted he was not trained in sound measurements and did not know if the tool he used was scientifically acceptable and in good order.  The CA declaration states that no resident can play any device which unreasonably disturbs or annoys the other residents.

The hearing panel ruled that under the facts, the CO failed to carry his burden of proof that he played his stereo at a legally-acceptable level.

The panel further ruled that "even if [he] could demonstrate that he played his stereo within the range established by Montgomery County law, [he] still would not have carried the day."  The building was an older one, with poor soundproofing, and this created a duty of greater care to avoid annoying the neighbors with noise; moreover, the CO ignored several notices from the CA advising him that he was disturbing his neighbors with noise.  The CA acted with good judgment when it ordered the CO to reduce his noise levels even if they were within legal limits, in order to force him to comply with the requirements of its Declaration.

The panel ordered the CO to pay the $15 fine within 30 days.

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