“Those little terrors! Can’t they just stop running around and making noise? I’m trying to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet!”
“Those old curmudgeons! Can’t they just stop grumbling and leave us alone? We’re trying to play by ourselves!”
These two starkly differing viewpoints can be found in many condominiums these days. So do condo residents have the right to complain about the presence or activities of children who are staying with other residents of the community? And why can’t we all just get along?
Kids Can’t Be Prohibited
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that a condominium property cannot simply ban residents’ kids from using the community’s public areas. Some condo associations have found this out the hard way.
In 2010, some residents began complaining about noise caused by children playing ball in the common area of their Methuen, Massachusetts condo property. Because the condo manager believed this to be a violation of an association bylaw preventing kids from playing organized sports in the common area, she issued $500 fines to five families of the “offending” children. But because the association didn’t enforce similar bylaws prohibiting unplanned parties in the same area, the families sued and received $130,000 in compensation – while the condo association paid a $20,000 fine. The only way to legally restrict children from living in a condominium community is if the property only hosts residents who are 55 years or older.
Parents Can Help
It’s not impossible for kids, their families, and older residents to live in harmony. A big factor in fostering this relationship is simply good parenting. Don’t let your children run wild all over the property and/or vandalize infrastructure. Make sure their activities are restricted to appropriate areas instead of public areas. When necessary, provide supervision for your children while they are on property.
Support From Condo Community
Of course, respect needs to be a two-way street. This may mean not lodging noise complaints unless absolutely necessary. The community can go a long way toward fostering a more inclusive atmosphere for kids. Examples include planning kid-friendly activities in the common areas (like a movie night). Or perhaps certain hours could be carved out for kids at the pool. Communities could even go a step further by soliciting opinions from residents about kids’ activities. Maybe the residents would enjoy handing out candy on Halloween or partnering with children for a toy drive on Christmas. Or it might benefit residents to have a representative visit to teach CPR, give a travel presentation that all ages might enjoy, or educate them about recycling and other eco-friendly initiatives.
Diplomatic Condo Managers
Condominium managers have the power to create a cooperative atmosphere among residents. This may mean investigating noise claims or recognizing that there may be a resident who simply likes to complain. And if a complaint has merit, the response should fit the violation. Try to work with both parties to find a solution.
If situations are handled with care and understanding, there doesn’t need to be a feud between kids and older condo residents. After all, the strongest communities are those made up of people who share common values even though they may be different – like, say, those who vary widely in age.