M.R. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
What is your suggestion on handling kids riding their bikes, scooters, and electric cars into oncoming cars in the community? Kids in most cases are unsupervised.
Mister Condo replies:
M.R., my suggestion is to get the situation under control and quickly! Most associations have rules against such activity and for good reason. Loss of human life or significant injury of a child is a tragedy at many levels. The monetary risk to the association that such a loss or injury can bring is tremendous. You would think that common sense would prevent parents from allowing their children to do such things on the association grounds but I think it is fair to say that you cannot teach common sense. You can, however, enforce the rules and make it financially costly for the behavior to continue.
Almost all condos have rules about what can and cannot be done on association grounds. Most recreational activities are forbidden except for areas designated for recreation. Unless you have a bike path, scooter park, or other recreational venue as part of your common grounds your association probably has these rules as well. Check your by-laws to confirm. If you don’t have the rules, adopt then at your next Board meeting. Also, check with your insurer to see what coverage you have for such activity. You may be surprised to learn that your insurer doesn’t want any of these things going on at your property either. It’s all about liability.
Once the rules are in place and known, it is time to take action against the offenders. You will notice that your by-laws do not refer to “kids” as this is a discriminatory term. The rules are against the activity, not the age or type of person performing the activity. If you have a property manager, you can ask them to document the offenses as reported by unit owners. You can hire a security company to come document the offenses. Offenders must be notified in writing that they have committed a violation and invited to speak to the Board about the offense. If the Board is satisfied that the offense occurred, they can then issue a fine as outlined in the by-laws. Fines usually get the offenders attention and the behavior should stop.
At the same time, why not try and use some Public Relation skills to help alleviate the problem? Send out notices about insurance premiums that will skyrocket if someone is injured on association property. Send out safety literature about proper places to use bikes and scooters. Perhaps there is a skate park nearby? Many towns now provide these for recreation. Speed bumps, permanent or temporary, may also decrease the unwanted activity as they pose a physical barrier to bikers and skaters.
The bottom line is safety. As a volunteer leader of your community you want your residents to be safe. You want to protect your association from liability and you want residents to have a positive experience living in your community. No one wants to play condo cop and issue offense letters and fines to residents but you do need to correct the behavior. My guess is that if you employ some of these tactics, you’ll do just that. Good luck!