Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rant: Courtesy in an apartment building

I live in a block of townhouses, which are called row houses in other places. Before I moved here, I also lived in a block of townhouses. Townhouses are wonderful, because you do not have neighbours above you, only to either side. This means there are fewer directions from which noise can come, and therefore one could reasonably expect the environment to be relatively peaceful.

If you expected peace here, however, you would be dead wrong. I am sitting here, at 846 on a Sunday morning, listening to my neighbour's son bounce a soccer ball off their wall. He started at precisely 830 AM, which is presumably when his mother said it was alright to wake us up (doesn't worry me, I've been up all night, but the noise is repetitive and annoying, it's like bloody Chinese water torture). His mother is well aware that we can hear the noise quite clearly, because we have asked for the kid to stop before. She has told us that she will not stop him, that it is only for an hour a day (lies), and that it cannot possibly disturb us (also wrong). There is a yard out the back of the child's house, but that is not acceptable because apparently he cannot keep his soccer ball inside the fence (we have a basketball in our yard which I suspect is his; it has been there for months and nobody has asked for it back). Using the other outside wall of her house is also unacceptable, apparently, because it would mean she could not see her son. She has signed a contract stating that she will not disturb her neighbours, but she seems wildly disinclined to honour that contract.

In a previous townhouse block, there were consistent dramas because people felt the need to park wherever they wanted, instead of in the marked parking spaces, often meaning others could not get their cars in our out. Given that this was in NZ where you are totally dependent on your car to get anywhere, this was not a happy scene. In this same block there were issues with people interfering with the private courtyard garden spaces of others.

Frankly, unless you consider your neighbours, living in a townhouse just doesn't work. That means no loud music late at night, no really noisy sex, no 6am home maintenance with a hammer, and certainly ball sports must be confined to outdoors. You must accept the limit on your parking space, and accept the fact you can see the plant in your neighbour's garden that bothers you. If tolerance and respect of others isn't in your vocabulary, I suggest you get a standalone house, or, better yet, a farm.

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