Balconies and decks are cherished features of homes, providing valuable outdoor spaces for relaxation, socializing, and enjoying the fresh air. However, just as we observe certain etiquettes indoors, it’s essential to practice proper balcony and deck etiquette to ensure a harmonious and respectful environment for everyone. By following a few simple guidelines, we can all enjoy these outdoor areas to the fullest while being considerate of our neighbors. Let’s explore some key points of the balcony and deck etiquette. Remember, every Association is different, so it’s important to check your building’s Rules and Regulations, and governing documents to make sure you’re abiding by the proper protocol.
- One of the most crucial aspects of balcony and deck etiquette is being mindful of noise levels. Remember that sound carries easily in open spaces, and excessive noise can disrupt the tranquility of others nearby. Keep conversations, music, or any other activities at a reasonable volume, especially during late hours when people may be trying to sleep. Consider using headphones or earphones for personal entertainment to avoid disturbing others.
- Smoking is a personal choice, but it’s crucial to be considerate of those around you, particularly in shared outdoor areas. If smoking is permitted on your balcony or deck, ensure that smoke does not drift toward neighboring balconies or open windows. If smoking is prohibited, respect the rules and find alternative designated areas where it is allowed. Cigarette butts are a huge fire hazard and can land on the patio umbrellas or deck chairs of the units below. Not only is it inconsiderate to litter onto your neighbors below, but cigarette butts are also unsightly and create extra work for the maintenance or landscaping professionals who service your property. Please always be sure to safely dispose of your cigarette butts in a fire-safe receptacle on your own balcony or patio.
- If you have pets and enjoy spending time on your balcony or deck with them, be aware of their behavior and impact on others. Ensure that your pets are well-behaved and kept on a leash or within a secured area to prevent them from wandering onto neighboring balconies. Be diligent in cleaning up after your pets, avoiding any mess or noise that may cause discomfort to others. Balconies are not the same as bathrooms! While Fido or Fluffy might enjoy sunning themselves on your terrace or balcony, this is not the place for them to relieve themselves. Training pads are usually frowned upon (if not prohibited entirely), and allowing pets to urinate or defecate on balconies/terraces will usually result in Violation Letters or fines. If you do use a training pad, please be sure to bring it inside immediately, as they can easily blow away and land on other balconies or pedestrians below (yuck). Also, pets should never be housed or left unattended outside.
Cleanliness and Maintenance:
- Maintaining cleanliness and proper upkeep of your balcony or deck is essential not only for your own enjoyment but also for the overall appearance and well-being of the shared space. Nothing should ever be thrown or swept from your balcony. This includes shaking out rugs, sweeping leaves and debris, and especially throwing cigarette butts.
- No carpeting of any kind should be placed on your balcony or patio. Most cement or concrete surfaces have a protective membrane coating, and adding a welcome mat or outdoor carpet shortens the lifespan of your protective topcoat. These coverings also hold moisture, which can warp your wooden deck, create organic growth, or stain your concrete.
- The policy on grills varies widely from association to association, so be sure to read your rules carefully! In almost all condo or high-rise buildings, Charcoal or wood-burning grills, chimneys, open fire pits, and patio heaters are expressly prohibited. These devices may cause hot embers to escape and potentially ignite fires. This is a very serious issue and must be observed at all times, as it poses a safety risk to the rest of the Association. Gas or propane grills are frequently allowed, but they must be safely secured in the event of high winds. Unit Owners and Renters/Occupants who install and use approved barbecue grills must always ensure they are being used safely. Check your individual building’s rules for more detailed info!
Gardens & Plants:
- Please take care when gardening outside and watering your planters or window boxes. Most associations require a pan or drip tray to catch any excess water so you don’t rain dirty water onto your neighbors below. If you are going to water your balcony planters, please allow them to drain sufficiently before you hang them over the rails. Depending on your association, they may prohibit planters that attach to the exterior of the balcony railings or anything that extends beyond the edge of your balcony at all. (P.S. This rule usually extends to laundry, towels, holiday lighting, or other materials hung over balcony rails, too).
Balconies and decks are cherished retreats that allow us to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the comfort of our homes. Practicing balcony and deck etiquette is crucial to fostering a pleasant and respectful environment for all residents. By being mindful of noise levels, respecting privacy, considering others when smoking or with pets, maintaining cleanliness, and respecting common areas, we can ensure that everyone can enjoy these outdoor spaces to their fullest potential. Let’s embrace a culture of courtesy and consideration, enhancing the quality of life in our living communities.