REDBOOK Blues: “8” Simple Rules

by Michael Payne, Allmark, AATC's Government Affairs Chair

For our industry, summer means residents at the pool, never-ending AC repairs, guest visits, and children, lots of children. School is out and many of residents do not have daycare for their school-age children. Kids 24-7 on our properties brings challenges and opportunities.

Based on my experience, if the kids like our properties, all things being equal, parents will renew their leases. Ensuring that all our residents live in a welcoming, pleasant, and professionally operated community promotes a sense of home. If the kids are happy, the leaseholders are happy.

To help foster this attachment, AATC members offer a variety of summer programs and activities for children. From swim lessons to faith-based mini-camps and mobile libraries to health clinics, AATC members partner with local churches, social service agencies, community leaders, and civic clubs to enhance the lives of children during the summer. Some communities have asked local law enforcement to teach bicycle safety and theft prevention classes, as well as, having fire department and emergency responders to provide safety programs on-site.

While having unsupervised minors on a property can be fun, it also brings numerous challenges. Remember what your mother said, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Vandalism, curfew violations, unauthorized guests, and graffiti tend to increase during the summer months. Some properties have reacted to these problems by imposing strict rules aimed at children on property.

There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to these concerns. Recently, numerous fair housing complaints have been filed with HUD and other agencies against apartment properties with age-based rules for pools, gyms, and common areas.

Given these obstacles and our desire to adhere to all applicable fair housing laws, rules, and regulations, the TAA REDBOOK contains excellent guidance. While not all these sample rules will apply to your particular property, they may help you think about or develop your own rules. A good general principle is to change “must” to “should” in your rules. Also, TAA highly recommends that you have leaseholders sign a copy of these rules, acknowledging that they have read and agree to abide by them.

Remember, you cannot prevent a resident from filing a complaint or lawsuit. As always, consult your legal counsel or one of AATC’s member attorneys to assess their specific situations and risk tolerances.

SAMPLE RULES:

  • We have the right to require any resident to keep their door, windows, and screens closed and locked (or latched).
  • We have the right to require any resident to keep their door, windows, and screens closed if, in our opinion, the noise from the resident’s apartment is excessive and bothers other residents.
  • Residents shall always exercise due care to inspect windows, screens, locks, and latches to make sure they are always in good working order and are being used properly to protect children visiting or living in an apartment.
  • Pools and fitness equipment have inherent risks and dangers. Any person unable to comprehend these risks should be supervised by a competent person.
  • We do not provide lifeguards.
  • If misused, heavy fitness equipment can pose a risk of injury to you and others. All persons using the fitness room must be able to do so in a competent manner. We may remove individuals that misuse the equipment causing a danger to themselves and others.
  • Quiet hours are between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.; all residents, occupants, and guests must be sure to be quiet both inside and outside of apartment homes during these hours.
  • Team sports such as soccer, kickball, dodgeball, etc., are not permitted anywhere in the community common areas except (state location). [Team sports can be totally prohibited for everyone if there is no room, but they cannot be prohibited just for children.]
  • No one is permitted to play in the parking lots.
  • Running and/or playing in the parking lot areas are prohibited.
  • Running on the apartment grounds is prohibited.
  • Bicycles, motorcycles, etc., may not be ridden and must be “walked” in the following areas of the apartment community: [list areas].
  • Bicycles may not be parked or left outside an apartment unit, except on private patios, private balconies or [list designated areas].
  • Recreational equipment and toys (such as tricycles, skateboards, roller skates, scooters, etc.) may not be left unattended outside an apartment unit.
  • No motorcycles are allowed in the common areas, including parking lots, because of noise and pedestrian safety problems.
  • The following areas are off-limits to all residents, occupants, or guests: [list areas such as high-voltage equipment areas, mechanical rooms, cliff areas, holding ponds, creek areas, new construction, other apartments].
  • All residents, occupants, and their guests may not play games or make loud noises in business centers.
  • Climbing trees, building structures, and fences in and around the community is prohibited.
  • Leaving under-aged occupants in any apartment unaccompanied by a person capable of supervising the child, raises serious health and safety concerns and risks for such occupant.

Michael Payne, Allmark Properties, is the AATC Government Affairs Committee Chair.