What to Do When One Resident is Ruining it for Everyone

Some suggestions for when you catch a resident breaking the community rules.

jfiur thumbnailBy Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

When I was a freshman in college,  my entire dorm experienced painfully slow internet speed. This happened several times. Complaints were filed. Maintenance looked into it. Turned out, one of the students was downloading a ton of pornography, which stole all the building’s bandwidth and slowed down the entire network.

(It wasn’t me. I swear!)

This is why we can’t have nice things.

It’s frustrating when there are rules at an apartment community, either unwritten, or very-much written and spelled out in the lease, and one resident blatantly disregards them, causing other residents to suffer, or causing more work for the property management team. Whether it’s abusing the Wi-Fi, walking pets without leashes, not cleaning up after pets, leaving the gym a mess, just to name a few, what do you do if one resident is ruining it for everyone else? You might be tempted to lash out and take away a privilege, but there are other ways to deal with the culprit than just punishing everyone. (For example: If one resident is taking all the chocolate chip cookies from the leasing office, don’t take them away and then only have oatmeal raisin cookies. That’s just cruel.)

Here are some ideas.

Remind residents of the leasing rules. And enforce them. If all dogs on the property are supposed to be on leashes and you see a resident walking a dog without a leash, remind them about the rule. If you just let it go, they’ll do it again. And other people will see it and start doing it. And make sure there are consequences when the rules aren’t followed. “Dog’s not on a leash again? Well, I warned you. Now he’s my puppy. I shall call him Fluffy Face.”

Keep your sources confidential. Encourage your residents to come to a member of the staff when they see something that goes against community rules. And investigate the problem. But don’t rat out your source. If you get a noise complaint, talk to the renter, and explain that you have gotten a complaint, and ask that the resident follow the rules in the lease and put in more carpeting to absorb some of the noise or to just be more respectful about noise in the mornings and at night. What you don’t want to do is say “Mrs. Smith in 3B below you said it sounds like you’re trying out for Lord of the Dance and she can’t get her beauty sleep.” Then the resident might agree to keep it down to your face, but then try to retaliate against the neighbor later by bring the rest of their dance troupe over to practice. At 3 a.m. And then no one would ever report problems to you.

Use social media, email or signs around the community. These are quick and easy methods to remind everyone—not just one offender—about community policies. (Though I prefer using the online methods because I am young and hip, and also these are harder to draw little mustaches on.) This is especially good for “common sense” reminders. For example, reminding everyone to password protect their Wi-Fi networks, or to keep the hallways free of garbage, or to only use the swings for a little while if other people are waiting. (I’d like my turn too, you guys.)

Stop downloading so much pornography during business hours. Seriously. That’s really inappropriate.

Keep an eye out. No one wants to be the hall monitor, but that’s literally your job. (See what I did there?) Don’t look to stir up trouble, but if you happen to see something that goes against the rules, or is a safety hazard, a danger to the residents, or just an annoyance, step in and squash it before it becomes an even bigger problem.