by Mary Girsch-Bock –
Spring and Summer Bring the Clutter
On my way to work one morning, I passed an apartment complex about a mile from my house. While the complex itself appeared to be neat and clean, the resident balconies were filled with clutter. Taking a quick detour through the complex, I saw more balconies than not that were full of items, most of them unidentifiable. I even saw a few bicycles leaning up against the unit walls, and even one just sprawled across the lawn in front of the resident patio.
Aside from the balcony/patio clutter, the complex was tidy; trees trimmed, recently painted, flowers planted by the leasing office. And while I applaud management for keeping the complex tidy, the fact remains that they can have the most pristine grounds, but a visitor’s eye will go immediately toward the clutter that is displayed on those balconies.
Though balcony/patio restrictions are typically included in any multi-unit lease, this is one area that even the best of tenants can abuse. It’s also one of the areas that is hard to enforce. While it’s simple enough to drive through the complex and note balcony/patio clutter, property managers with limited staff often cite the need to focus on the bigger issues.
Unfortunately, while the manager may see a harmless infraction, a potential tenant sees an unsightly apartment community – which immediately makes this a bigger issue. So, what are the best ways to keep this very common problem under control? Here are a few ideas:
- Address the balcony/patio restrictions with all potential tenants, with new tenants signing a form stating that they have been notified about those restrictions. This way, if balcony or patio clutter becomes an issue down the road, you have a written acknowledgement that the tenant was notified about any restrictions.
- Be very clear about what is and what is not able to be on a resident’s balcony or patio. This may vary from community to community, but providing tenants with a list of what can and cannot be stored on their balcony may prevent them from inadvertently violating the rules due to lack of knowledge.
- If possible, offer alternative storage solutions. Perhaps strike a deal with a neighborhood storage facility that will offer your tenants a discount.
- Actively enforce the policy. While many managers may be reluctant to potentially anger a good tenant over this issue, remember that messing balconies and patios can have a direct effect on leasing rates. Create a system, where you can easily track violators – perhaps approaching them informally the first time. Like any other lease violation, the penalties should become progressively more severe if the issue is not resolved.
- Offer a ‘Prettiest Balcony’ contest, allowing residents to have a little bit of fun and utilize their creativity. If residents take pride in their balcony, they’re much less likely to fill it with clutter.
Start enforcing your balcony or patio restrictions today, and by summer time, you’ll have the prettiest balconies in the neighborhood.