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Screen doors leading into common areas being left open
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23/04/2018 - 12:57 am
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My flat is on the ground floor of a 1930s building of six. Two flats per floor, with front and back common area entrances/stairwells separating the flats.

The front and back doors for each flat face the corresponding door of the neighbouring flat and are very close. Between 3m and 4m apart. On the ground floor each of these doors has a screen door.

Recently new neighbours purchased and moved into the other ground floor flat. They seem friendly and sensible and we’ve had a few pleasant short conversations, but I don’t really know them well.

At least one of them has a tendency to leave their screen door open 60° to 90° when leaving and entering the flat. (And I’m not talking about a quick trip to the clothes line – the back screen door is often left open for long stretches. Ditto at the front.) 

My concerns…

a) when left ajar, the screen door intrudes into the common area/thoroughfare; obstructively so at the front owing to the placement of the stairs – you’d have to step around the open screen door to get to my own door or up the stairs

b) the leading edge of an open screen door is potentially a tripping hazard or could cause injury if someone stumbled into it

c) it detracts from the appearance of these common areas, which are the front and back entryways for all six flats; especially at the back where the wooden doors are badly in need of painting

d) potentially a security risk – not because the screen doors themselves are especially secure but from the impression that might be given to anyone casing the building

To date I have simply been closing the screen doors if they are open when I pass them. But tbh that’s getting a bit tiresome. And I actually don’t like doing it. Not routinely.

So I’m planning to raise it with my neighbours when next we chat. (Perhaps they have a good reason for liking to leave their screen door ajar – as opposed to simply not caring whether it’s open or not – although I’m stumped trying to think what that would be.)

And so to my questions…

1. Of my concerns above, which ones, if any, might be considered to have real validity in terms of common areas and so on?

(As opposed to those that might be reasonably dismissed as my personal preference and thus have little standing because, after all, it’s not my flat.)

2. Also, does anyone have any advice of a recommended way to approach this matter? (Beyond common sense friendly courtesy, using “when-you-do-this-I-” phrasing, and so on.)

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23/04/2018 - 8:29 am
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One of the unforseen consequences of evolution is the loss of the ability to grasp the handle of an open door and pull or push it closed.

Anthropologists believe this is a direct consequence of the installation of automatic sliding doors and apartment doors with lever sprung closures.

In short, people have become used to doors closing themselves and would rather disturb their neighbours by allowing their doors to slam shut than, in grasping the door handle, waste a precious nanosecond that could otherwise be used Facebooking their imaginary friends.

Similarly, doors that have no automatic closure are left open because logic dictates that if they needed to be closed, they would have a spring closure attached.

But seriously, put a polite note on the door asking people to close it after them.  That’s all you need to say: “Please ensure this door is closed after use”.

If that doesn’t work, get your committee to send out a note to ALL owners telling them the screen doors are there for a reason.

If neither of those work, and you are sure it’s the new neighbours, ask them if they have any idea who it is that keeps leaving the door open.

Finally, before you get the strata committee to invest in spring closures, the accepted wording of a personal approach is “Mate?  The screen door?  Really?”

Flame Tree
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23/04/2018 - 10:51 am
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We recently had all our front doors assessed, one of the important fail points for many was screen doors that opened to suit the unit door but in fact pulled opened from the wrong way out, and made it dangerous for passing escaping pedestrians to find a blocked open door they couldn’t pass, or wear a door edge to the face should you fall into it, or not see it in a blackout. The ghastly thought of slicing open someones face should be enough to get decent folks to realise their folly. But when they attach a self closer ensure its gently closes otherwise the constant banging from all owners with these doors becomes it’s own problem.

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23/04/2018 - 2:10 pm
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JimmyT said

If neither of those work, and you are sure it’s the new neighbours, ask them if they have any idea who it is that keeps leaving the door open.

It’s definitely the new neighbours: it’s not some random third person who is coming by and opening their screen doors. 

To clarify, the screen doors in question are those for their flat’s front and back doors. (The common area at the back has no main/common door at all and the entrance to the common area at the front has old-school double doors with no screens.) The screen doors can be found open after the neighbours have left or arrived home. Or once after someone had come to their front door: the front door was closed behind them but the screen door was left open (not closed by the visitor, not closed by the neighbour) – highly evolved behaviour indeed.  🙂 

Seriously, though, this is why I was seeking advice. Since these doors are most definitely part of their flat but are affecting use/appearance of the common area.

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25/04/2018 - 11:45 pm
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Got it – I hadn’t quite grasped the layout.

It depends how aggressive you want to get on this.  Perhaps closing the screen door noisily a couple of times might get their attention.

Or just waiting till you see them and asking politely if they wouldn’t mind.

Or getting up at 3am one morning and removing the screen door completely and leaving it by the bins.

Or printing out this thread and slipping it under their door. 

Either way, this strikes me as the kind of issue that could be resolved with a polite request – or it could just as easily escalate to World War Three. 

I would go with polite request … but have my missiles armed and ready in their silos.

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