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Flat Chat

Knickers in a twist over laundry

Most people most of the time just want to do the right thing. But when thoughtless neighbours get in the way of good behaviour, well, anyone can get their knickers in a twist.

QUESTION: This isn't so much a legal or by-law issue, more of a resident etiquette issue - there's no room on the communal washing line to dry my smalls.

We live in a complex of 35 units and there are only two clothes lines that hang off the side of a building, about two metres long with 5 lines for drying clothes.

Every time I go to hang anything up the lines are full of dry clothes. I usually go back to check the line for room, and more often than not the same clothes are still there.

What I would like to know is the proper and polite way to deal with the situation. I unfortunately have no idea who the clothes belong to so I can't speak to them about it. Do I just move them? Any answer will be greatly appreciated!

High and Dry, Clovelly

ANSWER: A lot of people really haven't grasped the idea of community living. You almost need to write a new by-law every time dough-brain realises he or she can get away with some selfish action (or in this case, inaction).

Less considerate people than you would dump the dry clothes on the ground although that would run the risk of immediate revenge. Others might quail at the thought of touching other people's laundry at all.

Some older buildings have laundry rosters that say which apartments are allowed to dry their clothes on specific days. A sign on the wall telling people they must remove their dry clothes as soon as possible might work. Or a note pegged next to their laundry asking them not to do it again could do the trick.

A laundry basket would probably get stolen but maybe each apartment should have a tag that they have to hang up with their clothes that lets everyone know which apartment they're from.

I'm going to punt this one straight out to Flatchat readers to see if they have any bright ideas. Email me on or scroll down and use my brand new "Comments" blog.

First published SMH September 2006