Being a country citizen and being a condo dweller. What’s the difference? Essentially none. A country is ruled by a government; a condo in Philippines is governed by a board of directors. In a country, you are bound by a constitution; in a condo, you are bound by condominium by-laws. As a citizen, you have the right to basic services; as a condo resident, you have access to a range of amenities.
Simply stated, rules are what bring order to a civilized society, and authorities ensure that rules are well kept. A condominium, being a small civilized society, is no exception. Not all rules, however, are explicitly written. Some unwritten rules must be followed in observance of good morals and right conduct. Although the basics of condo etiquette may all sound like common sense, unfortunately, adherence is not always common in a condo neighborhood. Here’s a glance at proper conduct in condo living that residents tend to overlook.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse
When you buy or rent a condo, you must make an effort to know all the rules and regulations. Violations are generally subject to fines and penalties, and don’t expect to be excused by saying that you were not informed by your landlord or condo agent.
Pay your taxes (or dues) on time
The collection of association dues is what keeps the maintenance and security of the condominium complex, so make sure that you pay them on time. When choosing the right condo roommate to share in your expenses, look well into his financial capacity and payment habits. When payments are late, you are liable for any penalty, so don’t expect you can use your condo roommate as an excuse.
Yours, mine and ours
Some areas in a condominium complex are commonly owned, one of which is the common ground. Common grounds should be treated as such, so pick up after your dog, clean up, and don’t leave any toys behind. Easements (or shared spaces between adjacent buildings) should remain clear in case fire engines and emergency vehicles need to pass through. Hallways are also commonly owned, so just because you don’t want to bring the outdoor dirt into your home, that doesn’t mean you can leave your footwear outside your doorstep.
Right to public property
Enjoying a wide range of amenities is one of the perks of being a condo dweller. Keep in mind that after you use them, the next user comes along. Clean up spills in the laundry area, and leave space for others to sort and fold their clothes. Gym equipment must be returned to proper places and previous settings after use. During peak hours, be careful not to overuse any of the amenities to the point of depriving others from doing so.
Right to public health
Common areas are not the only ones you share with your neighbors. With only one wall between you and your neighbor, pests are unfortunately commonly shared too. So practice proper waste disposal for the entire community’s health. Keep your private property clean and tidy. Your balcony, although part of your private property, should not be used for your garbage disposal. Avoid smoking too in common grounds when other neighbors are around.
Right to public safety
Be cautious about guests who ring the buzzer. Before admitting them into the building, make sure to obtain proper identification, and proper approval from the person they wish to visit. If your building has security, make sure that you and your guests cooperate with the security measures. Follow safety procedures too when using your home appliances. Avoid using fire hazards, and ensure that you have a fire extinguisher at hand.
Pets as threats
No matter how tame and trained your pet may be, they may also be a threat to safety. Be extra careful about your pets, especially when showing aggressive behavior towards a passerby. Keep them on a leash whenever outdoors.
Follow traffic rules
You may not be in a highway, but your condominium is regulated by traffic rules too. Car entrances and exits are designated to manage traffic flow. Parking spaces are allotted for you and your guests, so stick to them and don’t eat up the adjacent spaces. With the narrow roads, you should all the more observe safety in driving – drive slowly and be watchful of people crossing.
You have the right (and duty) to remain silent
Your condo neighbor deserves to come home to a quiet, relaxing home so make sure that you don’t get in the way. Play your music at normal volume, especially in the wee hours. Avoid loud and boisterous conversations. If these can’t be avoided, especially in gatherings, use the designated area in your condominium (typically the penthouse or a party room). Your children and your pets are also prone to forget their manners, so be watchful that they don’t create noise that disturbs the neighborhood.
Anything you say (or do) can be used against you
Chances happen when you come across a neighbor on your way in or out. And even if they don’t mean to be nosey, they can’t help but notice that way you talk or the way you act. Proper conduct calls you to use appropriate language and to dress conservatively. This doesn’t mean cutting your freedom of speech and fashion, but simply observing prudence. Saying “please” when asking a neighbor to press the elevator button, or “thank you” when someone opens the door are courteous practices that create a friendly atmosphere. Simple gestures, such as holding the doors and helping to carry bags are great ways to start friendships. It also wouldn’t hurt to smile and say “hello” too to brighten someone else’s day.
The elevator is probably the most used common property, yet no one wants to be locked up in this confined space longer than necessary. Everyone is either in a hurry to step home, or rushing to get to their workplace. So use the elevator in a way that avoids delay to others. When moving your things in or out, schedule it at a time when the elevators are not busy, or better yet, inform the condominium management.
The odd man out
When decorating or repainting your exteriors, be careful not to go overboard. Remember that a townhouse or condominium façade is viewed as a whole, so every unit must blend with each other. Be cautious not to use too much seasonal decorations (such as Christmas lights) or use awnings with an offbeat color.
Post no bill (and laundry)
The exterior of your home is not the place to hang your laundry or to post any sign. Consult the management for designated areas for such purposes. This is in keeping further the aesthetics of the condominium façade.
Owning a piece of real estate Philippines comes with moral and legal duties. Especially when living in a small neighborhood, do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. Courtesy, respect and cooperation are essential to achieve the peace and harmony that we all desire.