Condo Media - August 2018 - 34

When Rules are
COMMON VIOLATIONS AND UNCOMMON ENFORCEMENT STRATEGIES
You would be hard-pressed to find any
rule that some owners don't ignore.
Parking and pets are the perennial "favorites," but others, though mentioned
less often, can be equally problematic.
Three in particular rank high on the
list of enforcement headaches for
managers and boards: Trash, noise, and
cultural diversity, which isn't actually a
rule but produces behaviors that violate
many of them.

TRASH
If we wanted to pick country songs as
backdrops for our rules enforcement
discussion, "Looking for Trash in All the
Wrong Places" would be the obvious
choice for this topic.
The standard rules for managing
trash-put it in a sturdy plastic bag,
tie it so the contents don't spill out,
and put bags in the designated
receptacles-don't seem particularly
onerous. But managers grit their teeth
(and often use strong language) when
describing the number of people who
ignore some or all of those requirements, leaving bags in hallways, behind
buildings, or alongside receptacles-
but not in them.
"It is very difficult to deal with," Pat
Brawley, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, principal
in Central Management and Consulting Services, says. DNA testing can
identify owners who don't clean up
after their dogs, she notes, "but most
people don't leave identifying information [such as mail addressed to them]
in their trash." And if they do it once,
Brawley says, "they don't do it again."
Enforcement options are limited and
not terribly effective, she points out.
"We put up signs, translate them into

34

CONDOMEDIA August 2018

several languages, and if we're lucky,"
one resident will spot another stowing
trash improperly. But even a first-hand
witness doesn't always result in an enforcement action, she notes, "because
people don't want to sit across from
neighbors and confront them." And
even given a willingness to point fingers
at guilty parties, Brawley says, "You
can't watch all the time."
Actually, some communities are trying to do precisely that, by installing
surveillance cameras around their trash
cans and dumpsters. This allows them
to identify not only residents who are
violating the association's trash disposal
rules, but also contractors depositing
construction materials in community
dumpsters-a major problem at some
of the communities Brawley manages.
The cameras record the license plates
of departing vehicles "so boards can
file complaints against the people doing this," she notes.

NOISE
People have been complaining about
noise as long as they have been sharing
spaces and walls. Early cave dwellers no
doubt complained about the grunts of
their neighbors. But for condominium
boards and managers, noise complaints
are particularly vexing.
Most governing documents prohibit
"nuisance" behavior that disturbs others, and excessive noise would certainly qualify, but what level of noise is
"excessive?" One person's intolerable
clatter is another's normal behavior; the
pitter-patter of little feet that makes
parents smile induces teeth-gnashing in
people who don't have kids and don't
particularly like them.

Is one neighbor being overly sensitive or is the other not being sensitive
enough? More often than not, it is a little
bit of both, and there isn't much boards
can do to resolve these conflicts. They
can try to mediate, hoping a face-to-face
meeting will encourage more sensitivity
on one side and more tolerance on the
other. They can also suggest obvious
measures-adding rugs or carpeting,
for example, to mute heavy (or not-soheavy) footfalls. Earplugs might be a
solution for someone who is hyper-sensitive to sound. But if the association's
covenants don't require rugs, industry
attorneys point out, the board can only
suggest them. And if the overly sensitive
owner doesn't want to don earplugs, the
board can't require that, either.
David Abel, CMCA, executive director
of property management at FirstService
Residential, says he tries to "finesse"
these situations, when possible, by
determining whether the noise about
which one owner is complaining is
disturbing other owners, too. This "objectifies" the issue, he explains, "so it's
not just a battle between two owners."
A broader-based complaint, he says,
gives management and the board more
of a basis for exercising the association's
authority to prohibit nuisance behavior.
But, if boards are dealing with two
neighbors who have different notions of
what constitutes noise, the best enforcement strategy, industry professionals
agree, is usually to tell them to work it
out themselves.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
There is no question that diversity of
backgrounds, ideas, and cultures enrich
our lives. But in a communal setting,



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - August 2018

Contents
Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover1
Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover2
Condo Media - August 2018 - Contents
Condo Media - August 2018 - 2
Condo Media - August 2018 - 3
Condo Media - August 2018 - 4
Condo Media - August 2018 - 5
Condo Media - August 2018 - 6
Condo Media - August 2018 - 7
Condo Media - August 2018 - 8
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Condo Media - August 2018 - 16
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Condo Media - August 2018 - 18
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Condo Media - August 2018 - 21
Condo Media - August 2018 - 22
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Condo Media - August 2018 - 24
Condo Media - August 2018 - 25
Condo Media - August 2018 - 26
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Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover3
Condo Media - August 2018 - Cover4
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