Enforcing House Rules Being Effective While Maintaining Good Will

Building house rules are the "Thou shalt not’s" of the co-op and condo world. Unlike the proprietary lease or bylaws, which cover operational and administrative matters, the house rules cover behavior of the residents–you know, the types of situations that arise when more than one person lives in the same building…

Standard rules typically include policies about subletting, pets, noise, obstruction of hallways, amount of carpeting required in each unit, window cleaning, handling complaints about building services, cleaning of windows, plantings on terraces, garbage disposal, storage, things projected from windows or attached to building, or sills or terraces, where children may not play, hours construction work may be performed, building’s right to exterminate. In other words, quality of life issues.

How the house rules are enforced–and how well–can have a big impact on life in a particular building. If they are not enforced, residents pay the price, which could be anything from small annoyances to decreased safety or building damage. And if regulations are administered too harshly, residents can feel harassed. Techniques of enforcement have three levels of severity: talking and letter-writing; consequences such as fines or withheld services; and finally, legal action.

Frequent Violations

When asked which rules are most frequently violated, building managers are pretty much in agreement: noise and pets. "What’s so difficult about noise is that it’s subjective," says Gerard Picaso, president of Gerard J. Picaso, Inc., a property management company in Manhattan, "Someone who wants to sit and read is obviously going to be more disturbed than someone who’s moving around, with the radio or TV on, whether by floor-related or general noise. Most of the problem isn’t late at night–it’s after work when everyone’s home. One person might want to take a nap, while the people upstairs are having company, and walking around and moving chairs. Maybe Billy next door is practicing his violin for a half hour every day after school–that’s a normal part of life. If you’re extremely bothered by foot noise, or the sound of the elevator next to your apartment, you probably shouldn’t be living in that kind of situation."


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  • have neighbor who leaves door open (to air out apt with hallway windows open, which is against house rules which mgmt will do nothing to enforce); as i have to pass her door, when opened I feel as if my privacy is invaded as she knows my comings and goings. ideas? thx
  • Our co-op has 33 house rules. none of the 33 rules are enforced. How can I get the board to enforce the house rules?
  • how do you get weak board/weak managment co to enforce house rules on noise?
  • Our co-op is a Mobile Home park with rules that were drawn up by us as a group. Then taken to an Attorney to make sure all was legal. None of the rules are being enforced by our board members. How can we get the board to enforce the rules? Our community is starting to look horrible. This in turn, is taking down the value of our homes. The children and grown kids are over taking our park by playing in the streets, trespassing on neighbor’s yards, skateboarding to the point that the noise is unbearable from morning till night. The children have no respect for anyone. Some homes are falling apart and or yards are disgusting. Half the board doesn’t want to push the rules due they feel sorry for them. We think they are afraid to enforce rules. So where can we go to get answers as to what we can do about our community. Before, we loose the value of our homes. Thank You