A few months back Dave and I bought a condo in San Jose. It’s a nice place and it was damn expensive. Soon after moving in, I noticed a few cigarette butts on our patio. I had a minor freak out since I usually assume that people who are inconsiderate will continue to be so. I calmed myself by remembering that it could have been an accident and the folks upstairs might not have realized anyone had moved in down below. I reasoned that it might not ever happen again.
Soon after, I woke to discover our patio covered in ash, chew, spit, and more cigarette butts. Yes, it was as disgusting as it sounds. Luckily, it was the rainy season and the weather took care of most of the clean up within a couple days. Dave and I then went to have a talk with our neighbors two floors above us. This is when we discovered that they were college students. The parents of one of the roommates owned the place and were letting their daughter and a friend live there.
This experience started to open my eyes. Dave and I had always talked about one day buying a place for our kids to live in when they go to college, so we weren’t annoyed in principal, but it did bring up an interesting point.
If you are going to transplant your kids into a community where they do not fit, you have the responsibility to teach them well and check up on them. There should be a firm understanding before going into the situation that they are not living in a dorm. They have to respect their neighbors and the property. If they cannot do that, they will be evicted just like they would if their parents were not their landlords.
About a month ago, there was a glass either dropped or tossed onto our patio that broke a plastic pot. The danger that posed if someone had been out on the patio, terrified me. Especially since I will soon be bringing an infant out there with me. After that, I spoke with the homeowner’s daughter, asked her to clean it up and to take down an ashtray they had sitting on their railing that I was afraid also may fall.
A couple weeks ago, I found at least ten cigarette butts by our patio door directly under their balcony. I tried to call her, but there was no answer so I left a note on their door asking that they clean it up. It was a fairly polite note indicating that their ashtray (now kept on the balcony floor) may have tipped over. Then I got back downstairs and took a closer look. Our patio umbrella had burn marks on it and a couple holes, clearly from cigarettes that were still lit landing on it.
At this point, after two incidents of property damage and the danger posed to those who may be below them as they’re hurling glasses and lit cigarettes, our next course of escalation is to call the police.
So I ask all the parents out there who have purchased or are thinking of purchasing a nice place for your college-aged kids: Have you thought about how they will fit within the community? How about the affect it will have on their neighbors? Do you personally follow-up when there is a complaint about their behavior? If not, you may find the police and/or housing association taking care of the problem, which still leaves you liable as the homeowner and may force you into the position of having to evict your own kid.