If you live on a farm with the nearest neighbor miles down the road, the following behaviors may impact you and your family but they are not likely to hurt anyone else. However, choose the same behavioral path with the nearest neighbor separated by only some drywall or a fence and the result can be much more harmful.
- Smoking: The biggest issues right now with smoking in multifamily buildings concern secondhand smoke and its detrimental impact on health. While that behavior certainly falls within the category of personal conduct impacting others, another possible impact is burning down the building if you fall asleep while smoking. More than one celebrity has died with a lit nicotine product in hand; no need to add innocent condominium and cooperative owners to that list.
- Candles: Most people love the smell of scented candles as an enhancement to a home's ambiance. However, that beautiful scent can soon turn to the smell of acrid smoke if the candle lights nearby objects on fire. Burning candles requires some form of vigilance and people who live next to candle aficionados hope that vigilance is utilized.
- Questionable taste in guests: Tell people who they can and can't have in their homes as guests and you are certain to encounter a vigorous debate if not an outright fight. However, some guests and occupants do create safety and security problems for the entire community particularly when those guests and occupants engage in domestic violence. Registered sex offenders and sexual predators also do not make the most welcome guests in shared ownership communities for all the obvious reasons.
- Poor screening of renters: It has always amazed me that some people care very little about screening the people who will be living in their home. Perhaps in some cases, it is naiveté and in others perhaps the property was intended to be a rental so the owner lacks an emotional connection to it. In any event, owners who fail to find out who is moving into their properties put their neighbors at risk for reasons outlined in the questionable guest category above.
- Poor screening of workers: It might not cross some people's minds to find out who is cleaning their home, cutting their lawn, working on their roof, serving as a caretaker for an ailing parent, etc. If these folks are working on your isolated farm, that is one thing. If they are working in a community and they are intent on mischief or wrongdoing, that lack of foresight and screening also becomes your neighbors' problem.
- Reckless driving: Driving an ATV on country back-roads might result in no harm other than some frightened critters. However, in a crowded community, reckless driving on HOA roads or in the condominium association's parking garage or parking lot can result in injury or death.
- Noise/Nuisance: Some might argue that cranking up the decibel levels with little to no soundproofing to shield your neighbors can result in hearing loss. If nothing else, the noises you make at odd hours could certainly result in your neighbors losing sleep.
- Not addressing water leaks: You know better than anyone if there is water entering your unit on a steady basis. If you contend it is your association's responsibility to repair that leak, you still have a responsibility to mitigate your damages (and that of your neighbors) by stopping the water entry if possible. Allowing water to sit in your unit can create mold which can spread quickly throughout a multifamily building.
- Pest infestation: If you know you have bugs in your property, do something about it. If you live in a single family home in an HOA and find out you have termites, failing to address that problem can spread to your neighbors' homes. If you live in a multifamily building and have refused to allow the association to perform routine pest prevention in your unit, you are putting your neighbors' homes at risk when the pests in your place decide to check out the neighboring digs.
- Dogs and Choice of Breeds: I remember the case years ago about the woman killed by a particularly aggressive dog breed, the Presa Canario, in her building. This is not an indictment of certain breeds but some dogs do need more exercise and places to roam and have more aggressive personalities. Those breeds are not the best choice when you are living in a multifamily building where you share space in the corridors and elevators with others. Some may not even be the best choice when you live in an HOA and share common park space and other green areas. Leash laws should naturally be obeyed at all times no matter how much you love Sparky.
Many of the more insidious problems in shared ownership communities involve people forgetting what it takes to be a good neighbor. If none of the behaviors above concern you, perhaps that farm is the place you ought to be!