PROPERTY: What Homeowners’ Associations Can Do About Children
Recent Gauteng Business News
Sooner or later, the directors of most Homeowners’ Associations are bound to have to deal with at least one member complaint about the behaviour of someone else’s children.
“And whatever the issue is – from loud music to rough play in the pool area to racing an ATV down the jogging tack - it will undoubtedly be tricky and need careful handling to ensure that tempers don’t flare and cause long-term animosities,” says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group. “There is nothing that gets parents so hot under the collar as other people criticising or complaining about their children.”
It is also important to remember, he says, that one of the main reasons many parents choose to live in estates or gated communities is that their children will have a safe environment beyond their own front gates in which to play, take part in games and sports and visit their friends. “In fact, buyers who would prefer a quieter home environment should seriously consider avoiding developments targeted at families.
“On the other hand, though, all homeowners in a community should be able to enjoy their properties and the common areas without having to put up with undue disturbance or unruly behaviour, while giving the same consideration to others. And although the directors of the HOA are not responsible for the behaviour - or safety - of anyone else’s children at home, they obviously do need to take action if there is a danger of injury or damage occurring in a common area.”
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says the only “official” action the HOA can take is to hold parents responsible for what their children do, and that the HOA constitution should thus provide for parents to pay for any injury or damage that occurs on the common property as a result of their children’s misbehaviour.
“However, this may not prove necessary at all if the HOA is proactive and gets the children themselves involved in deciding what they need to keep them constructively occupied – perhaps a specific area in which to rollerblade or skateboard, for example, or a designated lawn on which to play games, or a clubhouse room they can use on rainy days.
“Children are generally very creative and enthusiastic if given the opportunity to discuss alternatives, and simply acknowledging that they have different needs to the adults in the estate will often make them behave more responsibly, to the benefit of everyone in the community, including their own parents.”
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