Is new law micromanaging apartment life?

Update: March, 30/2016 - 09:11

HÀ NỘI — “Don’t raise poultry or cattle”; “Don’t litter, make a mess or dispose of waste in public areas”; “Don’t burn votive paper”. These regulations sound familiar to anyone living in an apartment building, as they are stipulated by the building’s management board and can be seen clearly on the notice board of any block.

On Saturday these regulations will be officially legalised as part of a circular on apartment quarters issued by the Ministry of Construction.

The circular clarifies that in case of violations, the apartment building management board or local authorities will impose punishments based on the law. The violators must compensate for any destruction caused.

The appendix of the circular not only bans apartment inhabitants from using TVs and broadcasting devices that make much noise, but also states that they are not allowed to hang clothes on the balcony or windows, or throw any items from these positions.

There’s nothing to discuss about the rightful purpose of the regulation. Everyone knows how dangerous it is if a package of rubbish is thrown over the window from the top floor.

It obviously aims to set up a civilised and well-bred lifestyle and limit impolite behaviours in modern apartment buildings.

A resident in HCM City ‘s Bình Thạnh District, Mai Hương, said that banning residents from hanging clothes on the balcony or staircases was a good idea, because it negatively affected the aesthetic beauty of the buildings.

However, residents have been debating whether or not the new rule is practical.

In fact, some residents in high-end buildings, no matter how luxurious they are, hardly have room in their apartments to hang their clothes to dry. The only thing they can do is to hang them on the balcony.

Việt Anh, a management board member of block CT13A at Nam Thăng Long apartment quarter in Hà Nội’s Tây Hồ District told Lao Động (Labour) newspaper that his building has its own regulations supervised by the management board.

“Many violations have been acknowledged, but they haven’t ever punished anyone,” he said.

A representative from Nam Từ Liêm District’s Urban Management Department said it is not easy to identify violations. Punishments require reports by authorised agencies to identify levels of violations. Local authorities, security guards and police find it impossible to supervise each and every balcony and window to report these cases.

It sounds like a difficult task. There are hundreds – even thousands – of households in each apartment building, and just a dozen management board members.

What seems notable in the new regulation is that swearing, fighting and quarrelling are also regarded as violations. These were not included in a similar circular enforced by the ministry eight years ago.

A resident named Huyền living at Hòa Bình Green City apartment complex in Hà Nội’s Hai Bà Trưng District said there should be no law against cursing. It was a matter of personal morals, so a campaign to promote the use of civilised language would be more appropriate than a law.

Nguyễn Ngọc Minh, a resident of block CT9 in the Định Công apartment building in Hà Nội’s Hoàng Mai District said it seemed unfair that the regulations were to only be enforced at apartment buildings.

“What about other residential areas?” he asked.

Nguyễn Văn Đức, a lawyer from Bình Thuận Bar Association, told the news site that the ban was necessary, but its implementation needed to be discussed more. There was a lack of guidance on how to distribute fines, he said.

On the sidelines of the 13th National Assembly session, Nguyễn Thị Khá, a deputy from Trà Vinh Province, called it a ridiculous regulation.

“This belongs to the idea of morals and ways to behave every day,” she said. “The construction ministry should not lay down too specific laws. Laws must be made in line with reality and not focus on things that are too small.”

These issues should be agreed upon by residents and management boards, not enshrined in a legal document, she added.

As for me, I don’t live in an apartment building, but the story reminds me of school, where all kinds of principles are put forward by teachers within a class. These rules aim to orient students’ awareness and behaviours for the better. The apartment building regulations are enacted to raise awareness about behaviour, too.

If each and every inhabitant is aware of the need to turn their living area into a better place, these apartment complexes will improve. Otherwise, if everyone ignores this concept, it won’t get better.

There are issues more urgent than awareness. These should take priority when it comes to lawmaking. They include fixing broken elevators, managing rising parking fees, renovating downgraded apartments and ensuring the quality of the buildings’ facilities.

These are factors that help create a peaceful lifestyle and a living space where everyone exists in harmony without swearing, quarreling or fighting. — VNS