In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it’s time to take a look at a different kind of love: the kind you extend toward your neighbor.

Nobody is expecting you to show up with a box of chocolates or flowers for your next-door neighbor, but there are some things association members can do to show respect and goodwill for one another on this special day – and every day. 

1. Know the rules.

It’s everybody’s responsibility to know the rules of the association. Sure, it’s no one’s idea of page-turning reading, but go ahead and spend a few moments with your community’s rules and regulations. That way you’ll know some of the major do’s and don’ts, which will help you maintain your home and conduct yourself in ways that comply with the standards you and your neighbors have agreed to.

2. Get to know your neighbors.

This is advantageous in so many ways. When you know the people around you, you can all watch out for suspicious activity – plus, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable having that “hey-do-you-think-it’s-time-to-pull-those-weeds?” conversation. Everyone in the community has agreed to follow certain rules and standards, so you’ve already got that in common with your neighbors. And this shared interest in the neighborhood can often be the foundation of deeper friendships. So the next time you see a neighbor in the yard, don’t hesitate to walk over and say a quick hello. 

3. Organize a get-to-know-you event. 

Ideally, your relationships with your neighbors should extend beyond a friendly nod at the mailbox. Why not organize an event that focuses on neighbors getting to know one another? Host a happy hour or a potluck, and you’ll be surprised at just how friendly, reasonable and approachable your neighbors can be. And don’t worry – just because you start a casual friendship doesn’t mean you’re going to have a parade of people coming by to borrow a cup of sugar every night. Most people value their privacy as much as you do – and if establish a friendship, these small favors can be part of a rewarding relationship.  

4. Talk before you report.

So you know that guy who leaves his holiday decorations up well into spring? If you are on conversational terms with him, try mentioning it to him in an amicable way before you notify the association. As long as you’re comfortable having a casual, friendly conversation, it just might do the trick – and go a long way toward keeping everyone happy.

5. If you’re having a party, be respectful. 

Parties are fun, but they can also be noisy. If you’re having a celebration, let your neighbors know in advance, and perhaps even invite them – always a nice gesture. Also, be mindful of your local noise ordinances. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to notify community staff (like the valet or concierge, if you have one) before a party – that way they can be prepared to continue offering excellent service. 

6. Know your limits. 

Being a good neighbor is about treading that fine line between inclusiveness and intrusiveness. While it’s nice to show concern, you don’t want to be nosy, and while you want to be friendly, you don’t want to over-burden a neighbor with small talk. And most of all, while you may want to hold everyone to the same community standards you abide by, it’s not up to you to act as the official enforcer of the rules. 

Robert Frost famously wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” As long as those fences conform to community standards and you’re not afraid to lean over them for a friendly conversation every now and again, those words are most likely true.  So remember to show the love to your neighbors this Valentine’s Day, and consider showing it all year round.

For more insights on happy association living, contact FirstService Residential.
Friday February 13, 2015