What is Etiquette for Common Areas?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Common areas belonging to homeowner’s associations or to condominium or apartment complexes deserve some attention to etiquette. While one can generally conduct oneself in any manner on one’s own property, common areas imply that one is sharing with people of different backgrounds and different interests.

Often common areas have particular laws for use, which must be adhered to by all sharers. Inevitably, one or more property users will want to break these laws, or attempt to bend them. It is considered only appropriate that all sharers in a property should respect any laws regarding use of common areas. Certain types of property like swimming pools and laundry rooms may not have all laws clearly defined, but there are general guidelines one can follow.

For common areas that include laundry rooms, one should be certain to be watchful when doing laundry. One should bear in mind that others must do their laundry as well, so it is considered poor manners to leave a load of wet clothes in the washing machine, or to leave dry clothes in the dryer. Though many are impatient to get their laundry done, it is also considered poor etiquette to remove someone else’s clothing from a washer or dryer.


If it is absolutely necessary to remove such clothing, which has been taking up a washer for a few days, provide a clean laundry basket and transfer the clothing to such. If the clothing is dry, and one knows to whom it belongs, it is definitely considered good etiquette to return the clothing to the owner. However, if the items seem of a highly personal nature, such as underclothing, one may wish to forgo this. It is definitely not polite to take someone else’s clothing and dump it on the floor or on top of the washer.

For common areas that include swimming pools, one should adhere to guest list rules. As well, dressing appropriately is considered mere politeness. One should avoid particularly revealing bathing garments such as thongs. The sharers in this property may include children. Thus decent covering of private body parts is encouraged.

In common areas that include health club facilities, one should wait one’s turn before using exercise machines if the health club is full. It is acceptable to use a cardio machine for approximately 30 minutes when others are waiting in line. One can use machines for longer stretches of time when there is no one else waiting.

One should also observe the common courtesy of using a towel to lie on when using weight machines. This is polite and also may protect one from picking up someone else’s sweat or germs as one works out. As well, be certain not to completely monopolize time in racquetball courts or tennis facilities. In general most common areas like these have rules about booking. However, if they are popular places, without rules, then book no more than an hour a day.

In common areas like playgrounds or grassy areas, a few simple courtesies can keep other residents happy. Use appropriate language and avoid cursing. Do not smoke. Clean up after one’s self and one’s guests. Keep animals leashed, and clean up animal messes. As well, greet neighbors with a smile and wave. Recognize that their rights to common areas are equal to one’s own.


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Post 3

I would have to agree with this article. I live in a condo and have always considered myself a good neighbor/resident. I am quiet but polite. I usually do my laundry in the early morning to avoid being in anyone's way. Yesterday I had just gotten home from a long trip and had to do my laundry at a different time than usual, middle of the day on a weekday. I did not stay with my clothes because I was still unpacking, but I watched the time carefully. I came back a couple of minutes after my load finished to find that someone had taken it out of the dryer and put it in a basket. I feel that

this was very rude. I remained quiet, but visually aggravated. One woman even came up to my husband and said "I don't think your wife likes me too much". I have always been polite to her in the past. The worst part is, the woman who removed the clothes is on the homeowner's board.
Post 2

"If it is absolutely necessary to remove such clothing, which has taken up the washer for a few days...." A FEW DAYS!!! That's crazy! Try about a half hour...or maybe an hour if you are feeling especially nice!! If you don't want people moving your laundry out of the wash, then attend to it promptly and allow others to use the machines, just like you would want to use them in a timely manner.

Moderator's reply: a few days is especially generous, i'll admit, but you can't go wrong with erring on the side of generosity, especially when it comes to dealing with the people you have to share common areas with!

Post 1

In a condonium situation, who owns the air rights, the condo association or it may be definded differently in the condo book?

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