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Added Apr 19 2017

I live in a 6 unit building with a nice little yard surrounded by a privacy fence. I have a patio set that I keep in the yard. Last year all the other neighbors in the building used my furniture as if it were theirs, no one asked permission. Everyone knew it was mine. I did not mind at first because I didn't use it everyday and I wanted to be neighborly. Some smoked cigarettes and used the table top as an ashtray and butted out their cigarettes on it, left the butts on the table or tossed it on the ground under the table, some left burn holes on the chairs, allowed their pets to sit on the chairs and snuggle up to soak up some rays, kicked their feet up on the table while sitting in the chairs, some have moved the set to position it elsewhere in the yard to their liking, and someone damaged the umbrella which I had to replace- twice last summer.
This time I do not want anyone to use it. I did notify my landlord who is a Chicago police officer. His response to me was that he didn't want to deal with petty drama.
Any advice on how to deal with this?

  • joanie 20+ year Resident of Jefferson Park

    Get your stuff out of the common area if you don't want other people using it.

  • the problem is that it is in the yard and it is a common area, I don't think signs will do much or talking to the neighbors as this could cause friction since they already showed they can be disrespectful for property that is no theirs.

    maybe you can get a smaller set or one that folds that you can take inside when you are done, I personally feel this would be the most effective option.

    you could possibly a cover with a cable lock, but that may be vandalized as others that previously used it may feel spited.

    a patio set in an apartment, best on a personal terrace if equipped, but will assume that is not the case.

    perhaps if you moved into another apartment with less units, there may be less of an issue.

    for sake of argument, when I lived in an apartment, I had never considered putting a patio set in a common area yard, but It was one of the first things I looked forward to when getting a house.

  • Sahia From the islands to Chicago

    It's a shared back yard, the entire yard is considered a common area. If others had furniture out there I would've asked first and not treat it so badly.
    I do understand your point, and thank you.

  • Yah unfortunately, your best bet will be bringing the set in and out as you use it if you don't want others to. It will look petty if you put a set out in the common area while telling people not to use it. Sucks that people can't respect people's things.

  • Hi Sahia. You sound like a very good, responsible person. The problem is, not everyone is the same way. I would suggest you save your money and get a place of your own. Renters are hit or miss and to get a group of renters that are all considerate, using common sense is highly unlikely.

  • Just a thought: First, I would take your set out of the common area for the some of the same reasons above. Secondly, how about maybe slipping a friendly letter into your neighbors mailboxes suggesting that you all get together and purchase a reasonably priced patio set for all to enjoy (with the stipulation that if/when someone moves, the patio set stays)!

  • A suggestion: Find an old junky wooden table and a couple of wood chairs in an alley (or on freecycle or in the free section of craigslist.) Soap them up and hose them down, and put them in the common yard area. You don't even have to give them a paint job. Drill a hole in the center of the table for your umbrella.

    Then, bring down your umbrella and a chair pad(s) (or aluminum folding lawn chairs) when you want to sit out there. And maybe a nice tablecloth for the table.

    But I expect at some point you will also find these damaged or moved around the yard.

    I do agree with the suggestion you have items you can take into your apartment when you're done (a small side table or light plastic card table, and aluminum law chairs) if you are going to be upset by how people are treating items left in the yard.

  • Dan G Scratch and win

    You obviously are surrounded by savages. First I would put the furniture on Craigslist to make back some of the money you have spent so far. Second I would start looking at maybe buying a home a place you could enjoy your furniture and not have to share with the savages you live by. I guess that's of the problems with living an apartment complex. Good luck.

  • That is just sad. It is a complicated issue. why don't you ask all of your neighbors if they would like to pitch in for a new set for communal use. Perhaps if they are financially invested they might treat it better. The only complication would be what happens if someone leaves. I hope you can find a solution for your dilemma. Good luck

  • Jack in Portage lived here for 22 years

    It's common area. Bring the furniture out when you use it. Store it when you're done. That's life. Don't fight it.

  • Its unfortunate that some people don't have the decency to take care of others property. The old furniture they destroyed, you should place somewhere else in the yard and as for your new furniture, I would put a sign where everyone can see and let them know that you purchased it and it is yours and do not want anyone to use it, due to the previous set being destroyed . Informed them the old set was donated by you .
    As for your landlord, he should just be stern and let the other renters know it's your property and to respect it. I don't see it being petty.

  • Sahia, very sorry for your frustration. As other posts mention, personal property left in common areas is open to use by all and will not be treated as "your personal property." If you can, collect from everyone to get a set -- if it's ruined it wouldn't be so personally maddening. Makes sense if everyone used yours... can't have six patio sets in one yard. Taking your own seat cushion or chair out/in for yourself might also reduce frustration. The owner's response lacks regard for his tenants. He could have spent 3 minutes to consider ways of making everyone happy like EB posts have.

  • B-NWside Lifetime Northwest Sider....

    Buy a cable and a master lock and try to chain the chairs to the table, similar to what most businesses do with outdoor patios. Then get a cover for the set and keep it covered when your not using it...That should send the message that it is yours with out creating too much drama.

  • Jan

    anything placed in a common area is fair game. the landlord is correct in his view of not wanting to deal with drama. i would do exactly the same. if you want to sit in the common area yard, keep a lawn chair and foldable table in your unit and bring it out when you want to be outside, then take it back in when you're done. this is the way shared living works, whether it is condos or rental apartments. if you want that backyard space so badly, save your money and buy a house with a yard.

  • Do they know this set belongs to you? Maybe they assume that since it's in a shared yard that it belongs to everyone. I think you are just going to have to either talk to your neighbors and tell them it's yours and they can't use it or you might just have to not put it out anymore. It's a sad that you can't enjoy a communal spot but unfortunately when you do share a common area you're going to have to deal with a lot of other people's B.S. We have a common yard too and as much as I would love to sit and BBQ in it in the summer I can't because I live with a bunch of knuckleheads.

  • Craig E. Friend of Chicago

    I lived in a sixteen unit building for twenty years and a lot of us put yard furniture out and we all used it and of course there were the few that didn't contribute anything and others that destroyed some of it. But if it's left outside there will always be people that take advantage and don't respect other peoples property.
    Maybe you should have a yard party and take that time to talk to your neighbors. Good luck and I hope you have a great summer.

  • Sue Portage Park-er

    Your landlord would be wise to address this 'petty' issue. If your neighbors have no respect for your patio set I imagine they don't have much for his property either! You can't really do much about items in common areas unfortunately. The decent thing would be for your landlord to provide a patio set for the building.

  • Your neighbors sound awful, but if you put something in a communal area, you have to expect that there will always be other people who will use it, even if they know it's yours. Your landlord also sounds lackluster. Maybe look to find a place with your own private patio/lawn area in the future.

  • That's why it's nothing like having your own property. As for this situation I would never put something outside like that in a building that is shared. I had a similar problem I put chairs in the back so I could sit and have coffee and after awhile I couldn't do that cause everyone would be there sitting in the chairs. lucky for me the chairs were not new so I took them out of there and guess what I got my space back now if I want to sit I bring out my folding chair problem solved! 😊

  • smartypants LifeLongCityGirl

    Grow up. Shared space. Different standards. You already know the answer to your problem. Don't ask your neighbors to pat you on the back.

  • Common area. Shared use.

  • EBKitty Stalking around EB

    This is why many people are pro single family homes and against multi family homes. Nice to have your own space, yes, even in an urban area.

  • If your neighbors can't take care of a table, I can only imagine how little they care about their apartments or building. I would rent at a smaller apartment building where you and 2 other neighbors can join in and buy whatever is needed together. It's easier to manage. Sometimes we do things with the best intentions, but not everyone is like us. Good luck.

  • DJ6

    Hmmm. To take another point of view, since it is a common area, by putting a table and chairs out and expecting other people to ask permission to use them is like declaring "this is my space" and other people could find that offensive. What if someone else wanted to bring out their hammock for an afternoon but the space was occupied by your patio set. Say they move the patio set so that they could sit there for a bit in their hammock. You're offended because they moved your set. Best to have commonly shared items in the common area. And, yes, putting cigarette butts out on the table is disgusting. No doubt about that.

  • Sahia From the islands to Chicago

    @DJ6, thank you for sharing another point of view. I did not mention that my set is in a small corner of the shared yard. If it were in someone else's way I would not be offended if they moved it to enjoy the space.
    It appears that I am not aware of how shared or common spaces work in Chicago but I am quickly learning...that's why I was asking for advice.

  • Sahia From the islands to Chicago

    @crazyfran, thank you for your input. I just signed another lease so moving to a smaller building is not an option for now.

  • Sahia From the islands to Chicago

    @EBKitty, I get it now! I see why homeowners frown on multi-units. (I don't blame them) and thank you.

  • Sahia From the islands to Chicago

    @Linda F @ Irving Park, I'm learning, thank you :)

  • Sahia From the islands to Chicago

    @smartypants, I did a lot of growing up by reading all the posts. I appreciate your comment. Not looking for a pat on the back by the neighbor's, just looking for advice on how I can continue being neighborly. Have a great day and thank you.

  • DPANCAKES Resident

    Do onto others as you want done onto yourself. If you asked each of them prior if they minded you putting an item in the common area, then you could have introduced the idea of being respectful to said item if they chose to use it. Which offering them to use the item would be the neighborly gesture and would help them want to reciprocate the neighborly gesture by treating the item with respect.

  • Sahia, now that you know what to expect, if you want to try again, either portable or stationary, the last page of Big Lots sale flyer has relatively low cost options. A cast steel bistro set would be tough to break. :-)
    http://www.biglots.com/weekly-ad

  • I've not read all the 31 comments above, so this might just be repetition. First, the furniture denies five other households use of part of what you describe as a small common area. Did the other five households give you permission to mark off space they paid for in their rent?

    Second, furniture in a small recreational area shared by five other households in practical terms is yielded to common use. It is naive to expect different.

    Third, the impractical cure would be to organize a building-wide pool to buy common furniture which is surrendered to the owner. That's probably not going to happen, but it would help you avoid becoming the building's crazy neighbor.

  • Deb R 60641 resident 40 + yrs.

    Good luck, Sahia. You appear to be a very smart young lady trying to learn the ways of the world.

  • smartypants LifeLongCityGirl

    Sahia, I apologize. My comment was just plain rude. I should never speak on anything after a very long shift working with a very troubled population. It makes other problems seem small, which is unfair since everything is relative. I wish you luck enjoying your yard this summer.

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