How to be a good neighbour in Mutual Heights

People living in Mutual Heights come from many different backgrounds, some down-sizing from houses in the suburbs, some coming to stay from overseas, and some living the city life, flitting from one building and one apartment to another.  Living in such close proximity can be difficult when people fail to recognise their responsibilities, perhaps because they are used to running around in a freehold suburban property with a garden, or they are coming from a quite different foreign environment, or they simply come from a place with different norms and standards of behaviour.   

Problems can be avoided with a little attention to etiquette, and here we offer a few tips on living in close proximity with your neighbours in Mutual Heights[1]. 

1              Be friendly towards others in the community.  You don't necessarily need to know them, but a simple hello or greeting goes a long way.  Our community is not so large that it is impossible to know names, faces, and who-owns-that-car-parking-place-downstairs (or across the bridge).  Having friendly relationships makes it easier to acknowledge and sort out problems, and to deal with questions or concerns.  Get to know the property management team in the office, and the security staff, cleaners and others.  Remember that the web site provides some contact information for people you might need to be in touch with.  Letting other people know who you are is the first step towards a more rewarding relationship.

2              Be quiet when entering and exiting the lifts and your apartment.  Avoid clattering up and down stairs, especially in the quiet hours between 10pm and 7am - some people work strange hours and need to sleep.  Keep your noise at whisper-level in the common areas.  Loud laughter and conversations while people are relaxing or sleeping are a real nuisance.  Don't leave doors to slam uncontrolledly.  We have some difficult old doors and old closing devices - take care not to let them slam closed, especially when the wind is howling through the building as it sometimes does.  Children are not often seen in the building, but when they are they can be extremely noisy and have been known to run around screaming.  By all means let them run around, but they must understand that they have to be considerate of others. 

3              Be conscious of the noise level inside your apartment.  Why not walk around your apartment in slippers or soft shoes?  Boots and high heels on parquet floors make a real impact, not only on the floor but on the people below as well.  If a neighbour asks you to keep the noise down, don't argue, try to negotiate a solution based on what you actually do have to do, how you do it, and when you must do it.  Vacuuming and washing machines should be run when you know neighbours are out, or at work, and never at night.  Noise and vibration goes right through our steel and concrete structure. 

4              Think about where you put things when setting up your apartment, for example your sound system and speakers should preferably not be affixed to common walls.  Then, turn the volume down on your radios, televisions, gaming stations and music system or use headphones.  For the sake of your adjacent neighbours, you should move them away from those specific walls. 

5              Have proper etiquette when using our shared facilities such as the gym and the car parking.  Always respect the community's rules about common areas and facilities.  Respect all parking spaces (they are much smaller than many of us are used to!), make sure your vehicle is completely within the designated area, and don't double park.  Explain to your guests what they can and cannot do when visiting the building, for example tell them about nearby city street parking and the Grand Parade.  Other users have the right to report parking violations to the management office and the clamp will be used without hesitation.  Just because a person never uses their space, it is never appropriate to assume that you can use it without asking. 

6              We do not seem to have many elderly occupants, but when you find them offer your positive assistance if it seems to be necessary.  If you see disadvantaged residents in the parking, with groceries for example, why not ask them if they need help?  You might just make their day with a moment of kindness.  Remember that there is a trolley somewhere that the security staff should be able to provide in these circumstances.  

7              Remember that this is a NO SMOKING building in all the common areas.  Although smoking is allowed inside your apartment, make sure that it is completely ventilated with the outside windows and vents open (unless the wind is coming in on your side!)  Discard cigarette butts properly in your own rubbish, do NOT fling them out onto the street or the people below.  Also, remember that you need PERMISSION to have pets:  they must be small, and outside the apartment they must be on a leash. 

8              Use the dustbins with care and consideration.  This is one of the primary causes of noise nuisance for those living near them, even though they are mostly tucked out of the way in the stair wells.  If you're moving in, with a lot of boxes, or if you have a lot of empty bottles (now, why might that be?) and used newspapers (do you remember what a “newspaper” is?) use the recycling facilities in the parking area on the ground floor.  Be sure to securely close your garbage bags before disposal in the bins. 

9              Think carefully when you have guests.  Reckless behaviour and disputes with guests are the owner's responsibility and complaints about behaviour will be followed up.  When holding a party it is a good idea to give your neighbours due notice about any potential noise;  if you think the neighbours would enjoy themselves, and might be good company, consider inviting them in.  If you are faced with unreasonable behaviour and an argument, it is better to try and drop the topic by making peace:  give yourself and the others space by suggesting to deal with the problem in the cool light of morning.  It may feel urgent, but usually it's not.  Experts recommend that you choose your battles with neighbours and others wisely, because continued fighting with others is almost always a lose-lose situation.

10            Finally, live the golden rule:  treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself!

[1] This text was prompted by similar guidelines to be found on the web - our thanks and acknowledgements to the several anonymous original authors!

Last updated:   1 October 2014