Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Being a Better Neighbor

It’s a fact that many of us live in apartments, and that living almost on top of one another can lead to arguments and animosity. There’s a reason the old maxim, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” has been around for so long. Common courtesy and respect for your neighbors can go a long way in easing tensions that are bound to surface from time to time.

First, be sure that you read any lease before signing it, and that you understand what is and is not allowed on the property. Make sure children and guests also know and follow the rules. Remember, you are responsible for their behavior and any damages as well as your own.

Here are some tips to ease apartment living and make you a better neighbor.

-- Pick up after yourself, your pets and your children. You may not own the property, and it may not be the ritziest building or complex in town, but that is no excuse not to take pride in where you live. Not only is littering illegal, it’s about having a little dignity in your surroundings. No one wants to live in a dump, or any place closely resembling one. Pick up your garbage, and have respect for trees, bushes and flowers. Not only do they improve the general appearance of a property, they improve the quality of life overall.

-- Most properties do not allow children to play in hallways or basements. Teach children not to run, stomp, yell indoors or slam doors. Even children as young as two years old are capable of understanding these rules. Playing should be an outside activity, unless they can do so quietly and without disturbing neighbors.

-- Be aware of the noise ordinances concerning your building, property and community. 10pm is usually considered “courtesy” hours, after which there should be no loud noise, but even so, no matter what time of day, any music or noise that can be heard outside your apartment is disturbing to and disrespectful of your neighbors. Do not run appliances like vacuum cleaners after 10pm, and do not start washing machines, dryers or dishwashers after 9pm, so that they will be done running before then. Guests are allowed, but should not bother neighbors. Similarly, do not blare car stereos while sitting in front of any building, or lay on the horn to get a friend or relative’s attention. It is lazy, rude and inconsiderate of others.

-- More properties are allowing pets these days, particularly cats, but also dogs. Many popular breeds are not a good fit for apartments, such as Labradors, Setters, Saint Bernards and so on. Small dogs that can fit in one’s lap are more ideally suited to apartment living. Dogs should not bark, and should obey the simple commands of sit, stay and heel. According to law, dogs are to be leashed, and owners are responsible for pets that bite or attack another dog or person. Also, though many properties rudely permit it, dogs do not belong above the ground floor. To allow it is not only rude and inconsiderate, but also irresponsible towards those living below them. No one wants to – nor should they have to -- listen to a dog romping over his head any more than he does a child.

-- Obey handicap signs. It is illegal to use or block a handicapped-parking stall without proper vehicle identification (license plate or mirror tag), and carries a hefty fine. This applies to all vehicles, even if you are just dropping something off, or will be “just a second.” Using that stall without proper ID is against the law, and that includes work vehicles such as cable installer, meter reader or phone repairman.

-- Security locked doors. These doors are for your protection, as well as your neighbors, but they only work when they are kept closed. Do not prop secured doors open, do not tamper with the locks, and do not loan out your key. It is not only your neighbor’s life and well-being at stake, but also your own.

-- Laundry facilities. Many properties have a communal laundry room. Washers usually run thirty minutes, dryers forty-five minutes to an hour. Please show courtesy towards your neighbors by promptly removing laundry when done. Set a kitchen timer to remind you when it is done, and do not leave laundry sitting in machines for hours on end or over night. If you cannot be there to remove laundry when it will be done, don't start it. If you do leave it sitting in the machines while you run off somewhere, expect it to be removed by your neighbors. Help keep the laundry room clean by emptying lint traps when you are done, and depositing trash in garbage cans. If there is no garbage can in the laundry room, take your trash with you.

These are a few simple guidelines that will make you a better neighbor, and will earn you the respect and appreciation of those living next to you.

Copyright HL Lester 2006


Jana said...

One big reason I don't and hope to never have to live in an apartment.

You should add in there to save all your arguing with your boyfriend/girlfriend for daylight hours as waking up your neighbors at 2:00am is rude. hehehe Happened to my sister all the time when she lived in a duplex.

Kate said...

Excellent information Heather!!

Lyn Cash said...

*nods* Used to live in an apartment then a townhome - and what you say is right on the money.

GOOD to see you - I haven't been on eharl in months and months. Is this the Heather who used to keep me smarter with word of the day posts?

Has to be you. Love your writing.

Heather said...

Thanks Jana, Kate and Lyn! I can't tell you how cathartic writing this was. Especially with neighbors who regularly forget that their floor is someone else's ceiling.

And Lyn- Yes, 'tis I! I haven't been to eHarl in a couple years, but occasionally share vocab offerings on the LAW (LeagueOfAmazingWriters) Yahoo Group. Speaking of...I think I owe them one or two now that promo week is over. *WEG* Thanks for stopping by!