Category Archives: good neighbor

conflict resolution methods

Handling Conflict Resolution in Apartment Complexes 

Disagreements between neighbors living in close quarters, such as apartment complexes, are a common issue and should be handled with care by the landlord, homeowners association, or property management company.  

While it is fairly natural for neighbors to have occasional conflicts over minor things like excessive noise at an inconvenient time, or parking spots during the snowy months, the main goal of those in charge of the complex or community should be to manage the issue before it becomes contentious enough to cause legal action. 

Here are a few ways to help handle conflict resolution and create a more harmonious living community for you and your homeowners. 

dogs barking

What Are the Most Common Issues? 

When living in high density apartments, there are some issues that come up over and over again. Two of the most prevalent issues include noises and smells. 

The issue with noises in apartment complexes could include stereos that are too loud, crying babies, loud footsteps in the apartments above, barking or active pets, or the occasional party. These issues are often solved by a friendly reminder about being courteous to neighbors or regarding the rules about quiet hours.

The second most common issue that landlords often receive complaints about are smells. These malodorous issues usually can be placed in two categories: cooking smells and smoking smells. Smells from a neighbor’s kitchen can sometimes be a welcome aroma during mealtime, or the excessive smell of garlic may turn other’s noses. 

Then, there is the ongoing issue of smoking in areas where cigars, vapes, and cigarettes are prohibited. With state legislation determining where smoking can occur, many neighbors find themselves in a conflict over the presence of smoking odors. 

paperwork

Managing Conflict 

Knowing the most common issues that can stir up conflict is one thing, but knowing how to handle the festering issue is an entirely different one. 

There are several ways property managers can help de-escalate warring neighbors. One of the first things is to listen to each party’s version of the issue. Allowing each person to meet with you separately can give a much needed background to the situation. 

Once each person’s version of the incident or situation is heard, it is a good idea to review the community rules that may make for an easy resolution. For example, if there is no smoking at the poolside, remind all residents of that rule and ask that these guidelines are followed. 

If the situation can be simply solved with a review of the community bylaws or rules, that would be great, however, more often than not, both homeowners may need to meet to resolve lingering animosity. This step in the process comes with the thought that by bringing both parties together that they may be able to hear the rules together so there is no confusion as well as what the consequences are if the rules are not followed. 

If Things Get Ugly 

Avoiding escalation between neighbors is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, de-escalation is not always possible and a mediator (or the courts) may need to get involved. In cases like this it is best to let the legal teams handle the issue and remain an interested third party. 

Drop us a note of how your apartment complex dispute was successfully resolved. 

 

Holiday decor

Holiday Decor Rules in Your HOA

The months of November and December are filled with holidays and religious events that are joyously observed by multiple religions around the globe. In fact, celebrations including Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Advent, Christmas, and New Years, make for a very busy couple of months. 

With this being the case, now is a good time as ever to review with your community members or tenants your expectations for holiday decor, especially if decorating rules are a part of your association rules. 

Let’s take a closer look at how cheery seasonal decorations can be balanced with our world’s beautiful diversity to accommodate all the religions and traditions. Here are some decorating tips that will benefit most HOA residents, tenants, and board members.

Holiday decor

Assess Your Timing 

We know that a lot of people love to start celebrating the holidays right after the Halloween candy has been handed out. Be sure to consult with your community or association rules to determine when decorations are allowed and when they are due to be taken down. 

Most communities have a specific timeline to follow according to the CC&Rs. A common rule is to put them up no earlier than a month before the holiday and take them down no later than two weeks afterward. Some communities, however, have rules about putting decorations up after Thanksgiving and taking them down by the first week of January. 

The best scenario is to check with your association or property management team about what the timeline is for your area. 

Avoid Excessive Lights & Noise

Communities are meant to be enjoyed by all who reside there. So be mindful of any excessive blinking lights or decorations that make noise, sing songs, or are too flashy. 

Many homeowners associations only allow a certain length of light strands, such as up to 200 feet. There may also be restrictions on when lights or music may be playing. For example, all lighted displays may need to be turned off by 9pm. It’s a good idea to put these on a timer to help you maintain the adherence to the community decor rules. 

Avoid Negative & Offensive Decor 

In this world where politics and religion can be sensitive subjects, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and place positive and uplifting decorations on your property. Avoid any decor that may offend your neighbors or cause issues during the holiday season. 

Violations that impact HOA rules may mean your decorations will need to be adjusted or removed altogether. 

Consider Safety Protocols 

When placing your holiday decorations be sure to check all wires and equipment for safety purposes. Your HOA or property maintenance team may need to take a quick look to be sure there are no fire safety issues with excessive plugs or frayed wires. 

What are the holiday decor rules in your community? Drop us a note this holiday season and let us know how your celebrations are going! 

 

loud neighbor

Handling Difficult Neighbors in an HOA

No one plans on having difficult neighbors when they move into a new place. Unfortunately, it can happen even in the nicest of locations. Thankfully, all is not lost when a troublesome relationship emerges in an HOA. There are several steps that you can take to improve the situation, and in some cases solve the problem all together.

Types of Bad Neighbors 

Normally in HOAs, neighbors develop close bonds where they trust each other and even become close friends. They go for walks together, visit with one another, and even hang out in common areas as friends. 

Unfortunately, there will always be “that neighbor” that may rub you the wrong way. This can happen for a number of reasons. 

The Noisy Neighbor 

This type of difficult neighbor can usually be dealt with by talking to the HOA about what the rules are regarding loud parties, music, or visitors on the weekends or during the work week.

The noise issue could be coming from an energetic pet, overly loud young children, people partying, or loud music. Most HOAs have guidelines about hours that should be quieter. 

Talk to your HOA about appropriate ways you can talk to your neighbor to resolve the issue before having the HOA board take any action. You never know, the resident may have no idea their noise is impacting other people. 

The Unsightly Neighbor 

From yard signs to unappealing trash cans, unsightly neighbors usually offend other members of the community with nuisance messes or the physical appearance of their unit. 

These issues, while annoying, are a bit harder to handle. Cleanliness of the trash areas and the physical appearance of a unit are often regulated through the HOA by-laws. Check out this article, from Home Management, on ways your HOA could handle this type of difficult neighbor in a kind and non-judgmental manner. 

trash cans

Illegal Activity Neighbor 

There are lots of illegal activities that go under the radar in many communities, but in a close knit HOA, these actions become very apparent. Your HOA will need to inform the proper authorities as well as make it clear that any illegal actions on the property are cause for legal action against the resident. 

HOAs have several actions within their purview regarding difficult neighbors. For instance, HOAs can follow up with complaints between neighbors to determine what the problem is and if it has an easy solution. If that is not possible, violation notices may be sent to stop the difficult behavior. 

From there, mediation may be an option to talk through the issue with an unbiased third party. After that option comes legal action to stop criminal or dangerous behavior. 

Do you have a difficult neighbor? Tell us in the comments how your HOA handled the situation. 

 

outdoor patio

Staying Safe in Common Areas 

Some of the more appealing aspects of living in a rental unit or condo association are the amenity areas including: walking paths, the pool, tennis courts, a fitness room, or entertaining areas. Many associations pride themselves on the well-maintained and impeccably cleaned common areas that are provided to the people living within the community. 

These common areas provide hours of entertainment, exercise, and places to socialize with neighbors and friends. These locations are often areas where community members can share news, celebrate, and enjoy time together. 

Unfortunately, just like in any city or suburb, community members should practice good safety protocols. Let’s review a few so you and the people within your community can stay safe this season. 

swimming poolSwimming Safety 

Swimming is such great exercise and can provide hours of entertainment for family members of all ages. Remember to follow safety guidelines that are clearly displayed in pool and hot tub areas. Avoid swimming alone and keep gates and doors locked so children can not accidentally wander into the pool area. 

Walking Paths

Just like it is not wise to swim alone in case of emergency, walking alone, no matter how safe the walking paths are, is never advised. Try to always walk with a friend and wear clothing that is easily seen, especially if you are walking at night. 

Property management specialists should attempt to make the paths clear of debris and as well lit as is possible. Trips and falls can be avoided with walkway lighting and well-maintained paved paths. 

fitness center man working out

Fitness Rooms 

Getting in a good workout after work is a great perk of living within a community. The amenity of a fitness room is a much sought after perk. 

To stay safe in this area, we suggest going with a friend and wiping down all equipment after you have used it. Be sure to follow the guidelines of equipment use so you do not get injured and keep access to the facility closed to non-community members. 

Entertaining Areas 

Many rental units and community associations provide outdoor entertaining areas with grilling access and fire pit use. Remember to always follow the rules to using the open flame in your entertaining area and be sure that the embers are completely out before leaving after your use. 

Clean up after you have used the area and alert the management if there are hazards like a grill in need of repair, gas tank that needs to be filled, or glass from broken bottles.

As community members remember that we are all aiming for the same thing, a clean and safe environment in which to live. For more articles on safety and common areas, check out our website or articles on our Facebook page

fitness center man working out

Common Problems in Common Areas 

As community members, we love our common areas. These areas in any condominium association tend to be the amenities we cherish so much such as the walkways, tennis courts, fitness centers, pool areas, entertaining/fire pit areas, and gardens. Unfortunately, with every common area there are some pretty typical problems, especially in a community living situation. 

conference room

Cleaning Up 

Common areas are meant to be used by all who live in the condo association. It may also be permissible for these areas to be used by unit owner’s and their guests, depending upon the HOA rules in your association. 

While sharing these spaces makes it nice for all to enjoy the amenities, it also means that cleaning up should be done by all. Usually every association allows for an outside vendor to complete regular cleanings either weekly or bi weekly for trash and general cleaning. However, the day-to-day cleaning should be done by those who use the spaces. For instance, if you head to the pool, tennis courts, or fitness area, be sure to carry out any trash that you brought in. Put items back where you found them and tidy up the space you used. 

Locking Up 

If your community has a key or coded entry for each amenity and common area, you will want to make sure that once you have used the area, that you lock the location. This means that homeowners should ensure that no people outside the community can gain access to common areas without permission. It is actually a safety measure that can ensure the protection of all who live in the community. Your HOA may have specific rules about when each common area can be accessed and what the lock up procedures are for each area. Please try to follow those. 

man with finger to mouth

Noise Level 

Noise ordinances vary from community to community. Check with your association about what your obligations are in regard to having music, entertainment, or loud parties in any common areas in your community. The rules may designate hours when music or guests are permitted, or it may mention distinct noise levels. A general rule to follow is to check with neighbors and others who are using the common area if the noise level is acceptable. 

Pet Problems

In addition to dealing with clean up, locking up, and handling the general noise level, every community member should be sensitive to the rules of common areas when it comes to pets. Review whether they are allowed in common areas and if they are what rules apply. For instance, does Fido need to be on a leash, is there a designated time that permits pets on walking paths, or are there specific guidelines for your community? Check with your HOSA before you allow your pet into a common area. 

For more articles on common areas and issues that may arise in your community, check out our website or articles on our Facebook page.

Boston Condos

Tips on Living in a Condo Community 

Have you just recently purchased a unit in a condo association? Congratulations! You will love the ease of living, the amenities, and the value! Now that you are in your own unit, you will need to acclimate to this unique living environment. Here are a few tips in case you are new to condo living. 

Read the Governing Documents 

Even before you sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S) for your unit, you should read the governing documents of your homeowners association (HOA). These documents will tell you what the rules, policies, and procedures are for your community. The docs will give you a good idea of what your community living will be like. They will also give you more information about who to contact on the HOA board should an issue arise within your condo, in a common area, or with one of your neighbors. 

urban condo

Attend HOA Meetings 

Not all homeowners associations have monthly meetings, but there is usually at least an annual meeting to discuss major repairs, issues, and elections of the executive board. Be sure to attend the annual meetings, if not other meetings as well. These meetings, while not all that exciting, will give you a say in what rules, improvements, repairs, and overall budgeting will be like. 

Meet Your Neighbors 

Make every effort to introduce yourself to your immediate neighbors. Condo living is community living, so it is crucial to nurture friendly relations with the people in your condo section. Some communities have mixers, pot lucks, or community events that will help with breaking the ice. 

white picket fence

Get All Community Access Codes or Keys 

One of the best parts of living in a condo community is the access to amenities that you otherwise would not be able to afford. For example, many condo communities have a pool, fitness room, entertaining areas both indoor and out, fire pits, tennis courts, and walking paths. When you initially move in, be sure you have the keys or access codes that will allow for your use of these areas. Don’t forget to find out if there are specific hours of operation for these areas or rules that you should be aware of. 

One of the easiest ways to get in on the happenings of your community is to opt in for community emails or newsletters. This may be the best way to stay on top of events, community outings, and improvements that may be occurring in your area. 

Do you need help adjusting to your condo community? Drop us a line in the comments or contact us for more information. 

swimming pool

What Is Condo Common Area Etiquette? 

Does your condo association have common areas and amenities such as a pool, fitness room, game room, tennis courts, or an entertaining room? These are great “extra” areas that can be a positive aspect of living in an association. These amenities, while a bonus of living in an association, also come with certain etiquette rules. 

It probably goes without saying that there is a level of decorum that is expected in these areas. Does everyone who uses these amenities follow the same rules? Are they posted or just listed in the bylaws of the HOA? Let’s take a look at the common etiquette rules that apply when living in an association. 

Common areas exist as a perk of living in an association. In order to keep the community working harmoniously, it is probably a good idea to follow some common rules. 

The Pool Area

While this amenity is probably only open seasonally (unless you are lucky enough to have an indoor pool) the idea is that all association members need to share the pool deck and be aware of others while they are enjoying a dip. That means that everyone should clean up after themselves including things like: food wrappers, beverage containers, and towels that are brought to the area.

If you enjoy swimming laps, try to choose a time that allows for the least disruption. Conversely, if you have a gaggle of children with you, try to accommodate those who do not, and are trying to enjoy a moment of peace by the pool. In addition, always follow the pool rules including no running, diving, or use of glass containers. 

Fitness Areas

What a great bonus to community living! Going to the gym can be such a hassle… unless you have one right on the premises. To maintain this amenity for all community members, it is a good idea to be courteous to your fellow association members. Always wipe down your machines for cleanliness, be aware of how much time you are spending on each machine, and keep the noise to a minimum. Just like with the pool, take care of any trash or towels you have brought in with you. 

Entertaining Areas

This particular amenity usually has specific rules. Some communities have an entertaining room or club house that is available to “sign out” for special events or parties. Be sure to carefully inspect the regulations regarding using this area. Some associations allow to decorating, liquor consumption, and catering to happen in the area, but be sure to find out the requirements regarding hours you can spend there, as well as what needs to be done upon completion of your special event such as kitchen clean up, putting furniture back in the proper spots, and shutting off the lights. 

Looking for more condo etiquette rules? Check out Emily Post’s Advice Column of “Neighborly Manners” for more ideas.

be quiet

What Are Common Noise Ordinances In An Association? 

The duties of a Homeowners Association are commonly wide-ranging and include decisions on when to make repairs, improvements, and additions. Associations also establish rules and regulations to control aesthetics and unwelcome behavior. Among the common rules and regulations are noise ordinances that help keep association members from annoying neighbors with loud footsteps, barking dogs, or music. 

A noise complaint is often referred to as a “nuisance complaint.” That type of complaint is usually an activity that unreasonably interferes with the use or quiet enjoyment of another resident of their separate unit or exclusive use common areas. 

loud noiseWhat Causes Noise Complaints? 

The most common complaint in relation to noise is usually caused by hard surface flooring. When surfaces such as wood, tile, or stone are used, it can amplify noises related to walking, moving furniture, exercise regimens, and play activities. If your association is one that has units stacked on top of each other, this could be a major problem. Most associations have moved to using carpeted flooring to buffer noises from neighboring units.

Another frequent cause of noise complaints to an HOA board are the sounds that come from a parking lot. Cars, motorcycles, and trucks can be noisy. No one wants to be woken by the sound of a revving motor or screeching brakes. 

Then there are also noise complaints that center around general living noises such as: barking dogs, noisy televisions, and parties. These nuisance events could occur regularly or could be “one-offs.”

give feedback What Can You Do About A Noise Complaint? 

Unfortunately, noise is something that is somewhat difficult to define, and even harder to prove. Often, if a complaint is made to an HOA that involves only one neighbor, the situation could be a neighbor-to-neighbor conflict. If numerous complaints are filed with the HOA about recurring noises, then the board can usually act. 

The first action an association member should take is to ask the person creating the noise about the situation in a calm and rational manner. It is highly possibly the person may not be aware that the noise is disturbing other association members. 

If an association member doesn’t feel comfortable doing this s/he should then ask the board for clarification about the noise ordinances. Often the board will put out a reminder about loud cars, parties, and common area noise to the entire association before taking action against a particular unit.

If the noise issue does not get resolved, the board and the association members may request mediation. Here is where things get tricky. Does the noise ordinance proclamation supercede the local or municipal ordinances regarding noise? Each area is different, so you will need to check with your board to see how it works in your area. 

Check out the common noise ordinances in your area and let us know how noise complaints are handled in your associations. Leave us a comment below or check us out on our social media

 

Parking Issues in an HOA 

What’s one real hot button issue in homeowners associations? Remarkably, a truly contentious topic tends to be the application of the rules and regulations dealing with parking and parking spaces within the community. It may seem like a minor problem to some, but to many unit owners it can become a hassle that can cause tension within the community, and between neighbors. 

What Are Typical HOA Parking Rules? 

Most homeowners associations clearly spell out the rules and regulations for parking, but if they don’t, the executive board may need to tighten up the language in the governing documents. 

Common parking rules include a list of where parking is not allowed. Those areas could include: handicapped spaces without a permit, loading zones, guest-only parking, or fire hydrant access areas. They are ordinarily marked with signage to indicate the violation area.

Governing documents also typically regulate what types of vehicles can use the parking areas. For instance, some HOA prohibit commercial vehicles or oversized personal vehicles such as: work trucks, RV’s, junk vehicles, trailers, campers, and boats. The basic premise of this rule is to maintain the high standard of appearance of the community. 

Another concept that the HOA governing documents may mention in regards to parking is the problem with abandoned vehicles. Some HOA communities prohibit owners from parking in a particular spot for longer than a specified amount of time which could be 24 hours or something similar.  Often the basis for this is to ensure that HOA members are not parking abandoned vehicles on the property for an extended period of time.

As you can see, most HOAs have rules in place to regulate: what types of vehicles are allowed (commercial, recreational, etc.), where members may park, and how long a vehicle may be parked in one spot. Enforcing these rules then becomes the problem of the governing board of the HOA. 

Enforcement of Parking Rules 

Within the private roads and parking lots of a community, an HOA board can issue warnings, serve tickets, and in some cases tow an offending car. Not all HOA boards will be as strict as towing or involve serving tickets to their community members, but all too often, they will need to remind owners of the rules and the consequences of not following said rules. 

Do you have a parking issue in your community? How was it handled? Were you satisfied with the results? Questions or comments? Contact Thayer Associates on our contact page or call us at (617) 354-6480

 

Handling a Hoarding Situation

According to the Mayo Clinic Hoarding Disorder Department, hoarding is a disorder characterized by persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. Understanding the emotional, physical, social, and financial impacts of this disorder is one thing. For property managers and HOA boards, this disorder takes on legal implications as well. Let’s take a closer look at what hoarding is and how living communities deal with it. 

What is Hoarding? 

The hallmark of hoarding is the collection of items such as newspapers, magazines, sale items, mail, photographs, keepsakes, food, clothing and, in some cases, animals. As with any illness, hoarding can range from mild to severe. Most people with a hoarding disorder may not see it as a problem, which makes treatment a challenge. 

Some of the symptoms that distinguish this disorder include: 

  • Excessively acquiring items that are not needed or for which there’s no space.
  • Persistent difficulty throwing out or parting with your things, regardless of actual value.
  • Feeling a need to save these items, and being upset by the thought of discarding them.
  • Building up of clutter to the point where rooms become unusable.
  • Having a tendency toward indecisiveness, perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, and problems with planning and organizing.

When the Problem Occurs in a Community

Scientific American estimates that between 5-14 million American adults currently struggle with compulsive hoarding disorder. For most of these people, the struggle plays out in the privacy of their own homes. In those situations, family and friends deal with the hoarding mess. 

For those hoarders who find themselves living in an association such as a condo or apartment complex, the issue becomes apparent to neighbors who may take issue with the problem. One of the first things a homeowners association will do when facing a hoarding complaint will be to determine if the situation is indeed impacting the health and/or safety of unit owners around them. 

Determining if a unit owner is merely cluttered or indeed a hoarder, can be difficult. Property managers and HOA boards often look at the following questions to determine the difference. For example, does the hoarding collection block emergency exits or doorways? Does the hoarding interfere with ventilation or sprinkler systems? Is the hoarding attracting pests through improper food storage? Is the situation creating a hazard for other residents? If the answer to any of these is yes, then the board and/or property managers will need to take action to ensure the health and safety of all who live in the community. 

In most states, the landlord and/or HOA has a responsibility to provide a habitable and safe dwelling. This duty is often referred to as the “warranty of habitability” and is implied in nearly every standard HOA governing documents. In exchange, most states require tenants to keep their units “clean and sanitary.” 

If there is a hoarding situation in your community, you will want to inform the HOA board of your concerns so they can take up the issue with the individual unit owner and determine if legal action needs to be taken. 

Does someone in your HOA have a hoarding situation? How does the board handle it? Contact Thayer Associates on our contact page or call us at (617) 354-6480