The holiday season is all too frequently anything but pleasant for many apartment residents, according to new data from the Association for Better Housing, which highlights a drastic rise in reported quarrels among neighbors.
The ABH said that during the holidays, the number of reports of fights among neighbors rises annually by about 20%. Among the most common complaints have been use of elevators during the holiday and building succot on group-owned property. The organization called on the public to take preemptive steps to reduce the points of conflict, and even detailed specific recommendations to the public.
The organization suggested that apartment blocs work together to determine rules of behavior for the holiday period, including cleaning trash and dirt that has accumulated throughout the year, and to carry out special cleaning drives. To guard against potentially litigious holiday guests, the ABH also recommended that apartment owners take out third-party insurance to cover potential suits by guests against their hosts for injuries to person or property.
Most of the recommendations, however, were more concerned with differences in levels of observance among tenants of the same building.
On the issue of Shabbat elevators (elevators that stop at every floor to allow religious residents to ride without pushing buttons), the association said that there is a difference between rules for buildings with multiple elevators and buildings with just one. In buildings with two or more elevators, they recommend that if one of the elevators has the necessary technology to be used as a Shabbat elevator, the request of even one tenant is enough to justify operating it as such.
They further recommend, however, that it is the responsibility of that tenant to enable the elevator, and to take responsibility for paying for the extra electrical charges incurred. In apartment buildings with only one elevator, the matter should be decided at a general meeting of residents, with those residents in favor responsible for paying the difference in electric consumption.
They also recommend that residents take their neighbors into consideration should they choose to listen to music during Yom Kippur. Sami Yisrael, the association's legal adviser, said that "one can listen to music in one's own home, on the condition that the music can not be heard in a neighbor's house or in public areas of an apartment building."
With regard to the building of succot - a source, according to the association, of more than a little tension during the holiday season - the ABH recommends discussing succa plans with the Building Council before building them on jointly-owned property or in an area not designated for succa building.
"It is important to remember that a good neighbor is closer than a distant relative," said Reuven Zadok, the chairman of the ABH. "Neighbors that don't get along are still forced to encounter one another on a daily basis, and so it is important to reach a solution peacefully and through understanding."