Condos, Co-ops and Kids Managing Conflict Between Families and Child-Free Residents

While children are most certainly the future, in the present they can often be a bit of a handful. In buildings and associations where residents live in close quarters, it’s inevitable that unit owners without kids will cross paths with their neighbors’ young ‘uns. This is rarely a problem when the tykes are well-behaved and playing safely, but when things get loud or even dangerous, conflicts can arise. A board can only regulate conduct so much without encroaching on the rights of residents, so a delicate balance must be struck that takes into account both those families with children, and those without.

Warning: Children at Play 

Part of any board-management team’s mandate is to establish rules that maintain quality of life for their community’s parents, children, and neighbors. This can be easier said than done – especially for properties that don’t have designated areas or facilities in which kids can play safely. 

Mary Pyrros, Director of Property Management with Kent Builders Management in Tenafly, New Jersey, is currently dealing with two Bergen County associations where the interests of parents with children came up against child-free residents – particularly older empty-nesters who have downsized by moving into these communities. “There’s just really no viable space outside in which the kids can play,” Pyrros laments. “Where there is grass, it’s limited – and often muddy – so the kids will play in the street. And we have older members who will perhaps occasionally not be fully attentive when driving home, so that can get dangerous. And our first priority is obviously protecting the kids.”

Pyrros goes on to say that the communities have implemented things like signage and neon safety indicators. But while these measures may reduce the risk of accidents, they can’t eliminate it outright. “We try to enforce the rules, but they will occasionally be ignored,” she says. “It’s one of the constant considerations that comes with being a manager.”

In associations with more abundant available space, the idea of installing some sort of playground equipment sometimes comes up. But according to management pros, those proposals don’t often make it off the ground, since even the most kid-friendly resident is unlikely to be thrilled at the idea of owning the unit closest to a noisy, boisterous play area. “The person in 1A or wherever did not sign up for that when they moved in,” Pyrros notes. “Why should they have to deal with the added noise now?”


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