Is it my obligation to clean the staircase or common areas of the building?

¿Me pueden obligar los vecinos a limpiar la escalera?

Living in a community of property owners involves sharing not only spaces but also responsibilities. One of the most common and sometimes complicated issues is the management of the cleanliness of common areas, such as staircases. This topic, although it may seem minor, is crucial for maintaining a pleasant, safe environment and increasing the value of the property. Additionally, the way it is approached can affect neighborly coexistence and harmony. Thus, a fundamental question arises: Is it mandatory to clean the staircase in the common areas of the building?

This responsibility not only involves cleaning per se but also organization and compliance with established regulations. The answer to who should clean these areas and how is not always straightforward and varies depending on the internal agreements of each community and its bylaws. In this article, we explore the different facets of this issue, providing clarity and practical advice for effective management.

Am I obligated to clean the staircase in the common areas of the building?

Residents are obligated to maintain the cleanliness of the common staircases in your building. Each owner is responsible for preserving and keeping in good condition the common areas of the community, and staircases are a fundamental part of them. Lack of hygiene in common areas can be a source of infections and diseases. Usually, a company is hired to take care of this task; however, in some communities with very few neighbors, an agreement is often reached, and rotations are made. Responsibility can fall on any neighbor and may be a voluntary or paid task. You will only be obligated if you have committed to it. In no case can you be forced to do the cleaning work unless there is a prior agreement among neighbors or an internal regulation in the community allows it. However, you must always pay the community fees to cover the associated costs.

Who should be in charge of cleaning the staircase?

The community’s bylaws define each owner’s obligations. Often, a specialized company is hired. This company inspects the place and determines the necessary resources, including repairs and preventive maintenance. There is also the option for one of you to take direct responsibility. However, what is commonly decided is to hire a company to assume the responsibilities, by drawing up a contract and obtaining approval from the board of owners.

Maintenance by residents

If the decision is to leave the cleaning to the residents, it is advisable to involve everyone in planning and execution. Additionally, the advice of specialized companies will improve results and save you from inconveniences.

  • Establish a monthly budget and stick to it.
  • Look for cost-effective alternatives, such as recycled materials or bulk purchases with discounts.
  • Call on neighbors who want to volunteer, especially if they have experience in such tasks or possess tools that can be shared.
  • Establish a system of frequent periodic inspections and evaluations to correct errors on the go.
  • Create a schedule for routine tasks that need to be performed regularly: cleaning floors and windows, garden pruning, pool maintenance, garbage collection and recycling, etc.
  • Build a network of contacts with electricians, builders, plumbers, painters, and other service providers.
  • In pest control, define priorities and the frequency with which it should be carried out.
  • Convene all owners to regular meetings to present management reports and discuss them, with the purpose of receiving suggestions and involving them.
  • Remind everyone that they have the right to use common areas but without littering or causing damage. Special care should be given to vehicles and pets, which often cause frequent issues.

What if community expenses do not include the cleaning of common areas?

Here, we enter the concept of common ordinary expenses, which are those incurred for the benefit of the entire community. They are essential for the proper functioning of the property, are approved in regular meetings, and are accounted for on a monthly basis.

As a result, everyone must pay their monthly dues on time, or else the property would deteriorate. Some of the expenses that must necessarily be included in the annual budgets are as follows:

  • Cleaning and maintenance of common areas.
  • Bills for water and electricity consumption.
  • Preventive maintenance of elevators.
  • Expenses generated by banking transactions.
  • Illumination of common areas.
  • Concierge and caretaking services.
  • Maintenance of gardens and swimming pools.
  • It is a mistake not to include the cleaning of common areas in the community expense budget.
  • The best course of action for everyone is to rectify this error immediately, even if it requires amending the bylaws.

What does the Horizontal Property Law say?

The maintenance of staircase cleanliness is a task that falls to all property owners according to what the Horizontal Property Regulations establish. If there are disagreements among neighbors regarding the performance of this task, it is best to try to reach an agreement peacefully, always considering the well-being of everyone.

Article 9 E of the Horizontal Property Law states that one must “Contribute, in accordance with the participation quota established in the title or as specifically established, to the general expenses for the proper maintenance of the property, its services, charges, and responsibilities that are not susceptible to individualization.”

However, this does not prevent one or more owners from cleaning the staircase and other common areas. As mentioned earlier, this can be done voluntarily or for payment, provided that it is done by a self-employed individual or a company. Therefore, those responsible for such tasks must have liability insurance, register with Social Security, and fulfill tax obligations.

What is decided in your property may be whether to hire or dispense with the services of a professional cleaning company. In both cases, even when directly assigning responsibility to a neighbor, the decision must be approved by 3/5 of the owners, according to Article 17, Section 3, of the Horizontal Property Law.

Cleaning the staircase is one of the many tasks needed to keep the common areas of your property in good condition. Your goal should be to preserve them as pleasant, safe places that remain intact for many years, adding beauty and value to your property. Without a doubt, open communication with your neighbors will contribute to gaining everyone’s cooperation.

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