A house seldom feels more like a home than during the winter holidays. When it’s cold and dark outside, there’s nothing like warmth, good cheer, friends, and family. But you don’t want to start the New Year by losing your damage deposit, or worse, your home itself. If you’re a renter hosting a holiday get-together, all the usual party risks apply just as much as any other time of the year, if not more.
Generally, you should avoid doing any of the following things if you’re planning a celebration over the holidays. Under most tenancy laws, they can be a cause for eviction:
- Interfering with the landlord’s or other tenants’ rights: The main factor here is the right to quiet enjoyment.
- Endangering the property or the other tenants
- Doing substantial damage to the property or allowing it to be damaged
- Committing or facilitating illegal acts: This is why, if you and your guests are on the younger side, it can be a risk to provide communal alcohol at your party. If one of the guests is underage, you could be held responsible for the fact they consumed the liquor you provided.
If your lease contains any specific stipulations about party size, provision of alcohol, etc., make sure you know and abide by those rules. It’s not a bad idea to check in with your landlord before making any plans to ensure you are aware of any rules that may apply.
The biggest things you need to be mindful of are injury, damage, and excessive noise. Here are 8 tips on how to reduce those risks before and during your next holiday party.
1. Let your neighbors know ahead of time, and plan around their schedules
Everyone likes to celebrate over the holidays. For you, that might mean carousing until 3 AM, but for your neighbor, it might mean getting up early to take the kids sledding. Your holiday kickoff could be someone else’s final exam time or the day before/after an already stressful holiday retail shift.
Being considerate of your neighbors is always relevant. But most folks are more invested in a holiday night going perfectly than an average weekend. Talking to them in advance can help you both schedule things in a way that won’t conflict, and shows that you’re considering their needs. They’ll also likely be more accepting of a bit of noise when they know to expect it.
2. Run a sound check
You probably have a good sense of how sound travels in your building. But if you’re uncertain how far your party noise will go, try doing the old “can you hear me now” with a roommate (or some music or a movie at various volumes). Check if you can still hear the noise from the hallway, the entranceway, the sidewalk, the corner of the road, the next block down, the next town over, a neighboring country, another continent, a nearby planet, the edge of the galaxy, and so on.
3. Party-proof your house
The usual thinking behind party-proofing is to protect your own breakable or valuable items. But make sure you’re considering what could impact the space as well. For example, something heavy or sharp-cornered that falls could damage the floor. Something angular that tips over could dent a wall. You don’t have to put everything away, but try to spot potential risks and mitigate them.
4. Be fire safe
There are few things more festive than a few glowing candles or a roaring fireplace…but there are few things more traumatic than setting part of your house on fire. If you plan to add a warm glow to your party, brush up on holiday fire safety.
5. Be prepared for the worst
Have an emergency cleanup plan ready to go. Know what to do if anything spills or breaks, and make sure you have the necessary supplies on hand so you can whip them out the moment they’re needed.
That said, some messes will be bigger than you can deal with yourself. It’s not worth making something worse in an effort to avoid telling the landlord about it. That’ll just lead to a bigger problem down the road.
6. Minimize disruption before and after
In many buildings, it’s the noise outside and in the entranceway that distracts residents more than the noise in another home.
If you’re in a house with multiple units, let your guests know ahead of time which part is yours and how to get to it. That way they don’t end up knocking on someone else’s unit.
If you’re in a building with a buzzer, let all your guests know what number to press so they don’t end up spending time outside talking, calling you on the phone, etc. On their own, those things probably won’t get you a noise complaint, especially earlier in the evening. But the more they add up, the more inconvenienced your neighbors will feel.
7. Create a list of things guests need to know about the house
Every home has its quirks, and your guests aren’t going to know about the sticky door handle or wonky toilet flusher the way you do. Have a basic list of “things to know” in the hall, and sticky notes anywhere they’re relevant. This can save you from someone breaking something out of frustration or ignorance.
8. Stay on top of things during the party
Hosting can be stressful, especially if you’re trying to enjoy your own party while keeping everyone else happy and your stuff safe and intact. That stress is only going to get worse if someone hurts themselves or something else goes wrong. It’s better to lose 5 minutes helping a friend get out of the building and into their cab than lose the faith of your landlord after someone makes a mess in the lobby.
Don’t be afraid to rein a guest in if they’re getting too loud or rambunctious — it’s your space after all. They would prefer to hear the tone-it-down speech from you than from a police officer who shows up after a noise complaint.
It doesn’t hurt to have some bus tickets on hand or a pre-arranged designated driver to guarantee guests can get home safely. You don’t want anyone banging on the door in the middle of the night trying to get back in — especially not the wrong door.
Go the extra mile for your guests when it’s your turn, and they’ll remember to return the favor next time.
Safe partying this winter, and happy holidays!
Naborly is a tenant screening service that helps landlords to identify high-risk tenants around the world.
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