Condominiums are pretty nifty. They give residents a place to hang their hats while – generally minimizing all the work and expense of maintaining a free-standing property. But, this easy lifestyle can be deceptive.
Too many invest in a condominium thinking that they will have no more responsibilities than a renter does…not so. Community living has its drawbacks and a unique set of responsibilities. For one, owners pay assessments which are designed to cover the costs of maintenance and upkeep of the property. And, for two, all owners must pro-actively care for their common investment if they don't want it to devalue.
Condominiums most often are positioned in the more congested and highly traveled areas of a city. They are located in – and create – a high density area. This means more traffic (and need for courtesy).
Here's just one example. A condominium here in Oak Park has a fairly expansive yard for the enjoyment of the residents. It affords grassy areas and gardens that the owners can freely enjoy. But it's surrounded by other condominiums and single family homes on what has recently been turned into a highly trafficed through-street. People in the neighborhood – both neighbors and passers through – think nothing of respecting this as private property. They walk their dogs through the yard leading to extensive damage of the grass and bushes on the property. They toss cast off debris (paper, fast food wrappers, empty liquor bottles and coke) cans in the yard never taking into account that they're damaging private property. They dare the owners to speak up and tell them that this is not a public park.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of those who own condominiums in this property prefer to look the other way. They see their status as little more than renters and expect their Board of Directors and their janitor to take care of everything.
With congestion comes a need for heightened vigilance and consideration on the part of all. Owners need to be willing to police their property more closely, lest the trash and damages mount leading to falling property values. And, neighbors and passers-by need to respect the rights of the owners.
Condominium owners do have a mounting problem. Laxity in individual complexes may well undercut the neighborhood's reputation and quality lifestyle. It doesn't have to. But there it is….a challenge to all and a call for Pride of Ownership and appreciation of Private Property Rights. Will condominium owners and the neighborhoods where they are located rise to the occasion? Or will they allow the area be allowed to slump to the level of inner-city slums? Time will tell.