The newsLINK Group - Getting Along in High Density Communities

Editorial Library Category: Multi-Family & Property Management Topics: High Density Communities Title: Getting Along in High Density Communities Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Neighbors don’t always get along with each other any more than many families do. The problem is bad enough in a suburb where the lots are large and there is a substantial amount of space between homes. Editorial: Getting Along in High Density Communities 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Neighbors don’t always get along with each other any more than many families do. The problem is bad enough in a suburb where the lots are large and there is a substantial amount of space between homes. If you are dealing with a multi-family building, however, getting along becomes substantially more difficult. Things that might not even be an issue in another community suddenly become an opportunity for contention and anger. Most people really don’t want to live in a war zone (or at least, that’s what they would claim if you asked them). They want their home to be a place where they can let down their defenses, rest, and enjoy being away from at least some of the other pressures in their lives. You can help make that possible by working to create a positive and friendly community where disputes are settled before they have a chance to get out of hand … or to become impossible. Despite your best efforts, however, tenants may sometimes get into fights with other tenants. When they do, it’s bad because it can splinter a community into so many fractious parts. It’s a lot easier to keep a happy community than it is to rebuild one. But if you are a building manager, what can you do to either prevent conflict or make it less likely? Your first step is to understand where you are likely to see conflicts. Two of the biggest sources for complaint are, unsurprisingly, unwanted noise and smells. Loud stereos, television, and instruments — human or not — are often a source of complaint. Someone watching television or videos late at night can make it impossible for someone to sleep. The sound of beautiful piano or guitar music seems as though it might not be a problem, but if the person practicing is playing exactly the same thing for hours at a time, or if the music is coming from, say, a brass instrument whose owner has a hard time finding the right notes, or a piercingly loud soprano, that is not so fun for the person listening. Add wild parties, barking dogs, cats chasing their toys across floors during the wee hours, and children acting like, well, children, and you have plenty of potential for conflict. The noise from renovations can also be a problem. Power tools, hammers, sledgehammers, and walls being knocked to the ground can be irritating at best, and startling at worst. Sometimes people think the renovation is responsible for other damage, too, and they will blame that damage on whoever is making noise. If smoking is allowed in an apartment complex, chances are good that the person smoking is not the only one who will have to deal with the scent of cigars, cigarettes, and pipes. Each one smells, the smell travels a surprising distance, and other tenants have good reason to be afraid of the effect of it on their health. Decades ago, those who objected to smoking were viewed as being intolerant. Those days are now completely gone. Sometimes cooking smells are good. But what if the person cooking burns something and makes a stinky mess? What if the person smelling is nauseated by, say, the ever-present scent of garlic on the air? Most neighborly fights don’t escalate to the level of a fight in court. People know court is expensive, and most people don’t want to spend fees that start (but usually do not end) at $5,000 to $25,000, especially when there is no guarantee of winning once the fight is over. Court cases really don’t ever have a winner. Both sides pay a heavy cost. Most people not only recognize that fact, they make their decisions accordingly. Subjective problems, such as smells and noises, are especially unlikely to end up in court, but renovations are another matter. People think they are more likely to get some money out of such a dispute, and the laws are clearer for something like property damages than they are for something that is highly subjective. One thing is clear: court cases can be bad for a community, especially when the outcome is part of the public record. For