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Background

My wife and I rent an apartment and a garage. The garage is on an underground parking underneath the building in which we live.

The garage has a metal door which we lock with a key. The underground parking has a lot of parking slots as well as garages like the one we use.

Now, what is frustrating to us is that there is someone who often urinates just next to our garage door. There is also a car in the slot next to ours, but its owner seldom uses it (it's covered in dust), so it is improbable they would ever notice this.

The parking is always cold, being underground, and so it's always wet and smelly. This behaviour happens often, but we've never caught whoever is doing it. Last Friday we went to the parking right after it had happened and found it very gross. Obviously, something should be done to deal with it!

We're convinced the offender is someone who lives in our building as the parking is only accessible with a key or a remote control.

But we're not sure how to approach this and get results. We can contact the owner of our apartment but he doesn't live here, and we wouldn't want to bother him with something like this. There are also no cameras in the parking.

We were thinking of printing several notes and sticking them in the parking as well as in common areas like the building lobby and the elevator, but we can't think of a text that wouldn't come off as passive-aggressive and thus would cause the offender to continue.

Question

If we were to communicate with this person through a note we print, what should we say to them, so we encourage them to stop what they're doing?

Or, can you suggest an alternative approach to pass the offender the message they can't continue urinating right next to our door?

My location is Bulgaria. The described behaviour is not considered OK here.

  • 8
    Do pets/animals have access to the spot? – NVZ Aug 20 '17 at 15:29
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    Just because it takes a key or remote to get in does not eliminate homeless. If you have place with a bathroom why would you pee in the garage? – paparazzo Aug 20 '17 at 21:05
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    I don't know Bulgarian renter's rights, but I own a property and here, it would be my responsibility to address it. That is part of what you pay when you pay rent. It is my job to make sure the property is in good order, that one tenant not excessively irritate the other, deal with all maintenance that is normal, even if minor. It's not the duty of the renter to have to deal with any of that. It it were maybe a random person passing by an open garage, perhaps I could avoid it, but as you say, this seems to be another tenant and that is the landlord's job here & I would expect to be told. – threetimes Aug 21 '17 at 9:10
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    It is strange someone doing it consistenly on your spot. Do you have a quarrel with a neighbour? – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 21 '17 at 10:30
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not really about personal interactions or skills but rather looking for a security solution. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Aug 22 '17 at 15:43
17

Bring it up with the owner/landlord.

You are trying to communicate with the wrong party.

Sometimes, the best solution is not to pick a fight yourself, especially because this is not your fight. Walk away, let the person who is responsible for the building handle it. You do not have the authority to install security cameras yourself, not in shared spaces at least. Neither is it your responsibility to discuss this with other tenants.

Its also not your responsibility to educate anyone. If this really is done by another tenant, leaving a note will likely either have no effect whatsoever (because you do not have the authority to tell anybody what to do) or outright start a fight.

You also do not know for sure if it is another tenant, an animal, or a homeless person (yes, they get in, even in locked spaces). So don't throw around accusation you have no proof for.

So bring it up with your landlord. Mention the smell and possibly other things. Take pictures, and make notes every time this happens. Collect your evidence to present it to your landlord and make it clear that you want him to remedy this situation. Let the landlord form his own hypothesis as to what causes this and how he wants to approach the situation. people are more likely to help you if you not only present a problem, but also a potential solution - so feel free to mention security cameras (even only fake ones) as one possibility.

I am not sure what Bulgarian renter rights are. If your landlord does not remedy the situation, that is another question, but it might not be an interpersonal one, but a legal one. Deducting rent is the way to go in Germany if the landlord does not cooperate, I do not know about Bulgarian renter rights, so possibly read up on that to find out what ways you have to make your landlord help you if he doesn't want to do so voluntarily (or, if you can't, either revisit this site or Law.SE).

Do not fight fire with fire. Publicly shaming anybody is not the right way to deal with this (no, you do not make a YouTube channel about it), revenge is not the right way to deal with it (no, do not try to find out who does this and pee in his garage) and neither is putting up other substances.

Do not use childish or petty behavior. Stay classy.

13

I would try the low tech route first. Place a poster with eyes on it at the spot, and see what happens.

A group of scientists at Newcastle University, headed by Melissa Bateson and Daniel Nettle of the Center for Behavior and Evolution, conducted a field experiment demonstrating that merely hanging up posters of staring human eyes is enough to significantly change people’s behavior.

A poster with eyes seems to say "I am watching you." It may not be the most direct method, but it is a method of communicating with someone you don't know and don't know how to find.

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    How is a poster with eyes an interpersonal solution? We are here to discuss interpersonal skills and this question was asked here for this reason. This may be a solution but it does not represent a solution appropriate for this site. If you feel your answer meets this, please add to it to explain. – Catija Aug 22 '17 at 3:01
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    @brasofilo Can you provide a link to the cited experiment and it's results? – Witan ap Danu Aug 22 '17 at 3:56
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    @Catija How is writing a love note inside a greeting card interpersonal communication? Communication need not be verbal, or face-to-face, and "written" communication need not have "words" printed on the paper. A poster with eyes seems to say "I am watching you." It may not be the most direct method, but it is a method of communicating with someone you don't know and don't know how to find. In the other answers, however, I agree; they are not "interpersonal" answers at all. – Witan ap Danu Aug 22 '17 at 4:05
  • @WitanapDanu I just pulled an excerpt from the link provided by PhrozenSky – brasofilo Aug 22 '17 at 6:40
  • @Catija With this approach, please close the question as off-topic. Once you don't accept solutions to your questions that lie outside of your domain, you should not have the questions at all, IMHO. And btw, how is placing a poster not a communication between people and how is communication between people not an interpersonal skill, please?! – yo' Aug 22 '17 at 14:27
9

Asking your landlord about hydrophobic paint may be an option, depending on the shape/angle of things.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/27/walls-that-pee-back-people-urinate-in-public

As mentioned in the article linked above, hydrophobic paint is a bit of an expensive option, but it can be effective in certain situations.

Regarding notes or signs, I think the graphic options espoused by the article are a good idea for a few reasons. (This is the part of the answer where I finally get into the "interpersonal" part of the solution -- with apologies for not doing so earlier.) Some advantages of a graphic:

  • It avoids the pitfalls of using words, then accidentally getting the tone wrong or sounding like you're blaming a specific person
  • It is more universally understandable. A graphic of a wall back-splashing on someone is understandable even by a person who cannot read or does not understand the main language in an area
  • It can inject a bit of humor into the situation
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    "It costs about €700 (£490) to cover six sq metres with urine-repelling paint, which has raised some questions over the scheme’s efficiency." Something to keep in mind when asking. Might be worth it, but my landlord would balk. – user3316 Aug 20 '17 at 18:57
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    How is this paint an interpersonal solution? We are here to discuss interpersonal skills and this question was asked here for this reason. This may be a solution but it does not represent a solution appropriate for this site. If you feel your answer meets this, please add to it to explain. – Catija Aug 22 '17 at 3:01
  • If you would like to expand on your answer to explain why your solution will work and also why this is a better solution than what the OP wishes to do, please feel free to edit your answer and flag a moderator to have it considered for undeletion. When you do so, please be sure to cite some sort of evidence that corroborates your claims. – Catija Aug 23 '17 at 2:44
1

You say it happens near an abandoned garage right next to you; it leads me to believe they might be selecting that place as a target because it is apparent that no one uses it.

It might pay off cleaning the entry of your neighbour, and disguise it is not being used to see if they continue to do it on the same spot.

I would also investigate if there is a small hole, a loose window, if there are ways to pick the lock, or if someone lost the garage remote control.

A consistent pattern of urinating seems more consistent with a homeless person [or dog] sleeping there, especially because a neighbour knows he can do the deed at home in a minute.

  • 2
    How is cleaning an interpersonal solution? We are here to discuss interpersonal skills and this question was asked here for this reason. This may be a solution but it does not represent a solution appropriate for this site. If you feel your answer meets this, please add to it to explain. – Catija Aug 22 '17 at 3:14
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    @Catija I'd say making the garage look in use is a way of conveying a message. – SQB Aug 22 '17 at 11:31
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Edit: This answer specifically addresses the "Or, can you suggest an alternative approach to pass the offender the message they can't continue urinating right next to our door?" part of the original question. Especially considering that they have never even seen the offender, have no idea if the offender is a resident, a homeless person, or even a person at all, a note alone is unlikely to have any effect.

The message is don't stand around and pee here, and it's delivered by cayenne pepper being unpleasant if you're close enough to the wall to urinate.

First, try and clean up any urine from the area. Soap and water, vinegar, maybe even a 10% bleach solution after should get it smelling like something other than urine.

  • Try sprinkling cayenne powder all around the area, even on the wall at a person's nose level. Maybe mixed with a little water to make a "paste" or "paint" to stick to the wall.

    • If it's an animal, they hopefully won't want to be around all the cayenne and will leave.

    • If it's a person, they'll see that you've cleaned the area and you care, and will know that you're doing something about the urination. They could smell the cayenne too and leave, especially if they get close enough to the wall or lean on it, especially if they're drunk then smelling cayenne &/or getting it on themselves (while leaning) might be the only thing they'll actually notice.

Optionally adding a brief note saying "Please don't pee here" may help or may just antagonize the offender into worse behavior. A note with "Do Not Step on Powder" (optionally with "Caution:") might scare them into staying away or might get you in trouble too. But if it's an animal, notes will have no effect. If the cleaning and powder alone doesn't work, try a note later anyway.


I think installing a security camera and light (a great answer IMO, I upvoted Wizard79's answer) is the best answer, at least to find out who/what's really responsible, but trying this "scent deterrent" should be an easier, cheaper, and faster idea.

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    How is this an interpersonal solution? We are here to discuss interpersonal skills and this question was asked here for this reason. This may be a solution but it does not represent a solution appropriate for this site. If you feel your answer meets this, please add to it to explain. – Catija Aug 22 '17 at 3:08
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    @Catija You edited the question, changing it from "how to convince someone I don't know" into "how to write a note", now only about 18% of the answers match the edited question. What trickery is this? If it's an inappropriate question, since there's essentially no interpersonal relationship with an unknown unseen stranger, the entire answer should be deleted. Otherwise the original is a good question, and now you're just punishing everyone who answered the original question in good faith. – Xen2050 Aug 22 '17 at 5:50
  • The question was never that. If you read the actual questions at the bottom of the question body, both of the options there involve how to communicate a message to the person doing this. We are an interpersonal skills site, not a lifehacks site. – Catija Aug 22 '17 at 5:53
  • @Catija Edited for clarification & to include the specific line from the question. Is the entire question's premise (convince unknown unseen stranger or animal) inappropriate for this site? Or is sending a message with cayenne powder only inappropriate? How can this powder idea become more on-topic? Would adding a note make it crystal clear and more on-topic? I'll add a note too, but I'm a little confused – Xen2050 Aug 22 '17 at 6:10
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    I've edited the title again to address your concerns. Though I would point out that the question specifically seems to want to avoid being passive-aggressive. I would be concerned that your solution might cause the peeing individual (if a human) to lash out somehow. – Catija Aug 22 '17 at 6:21

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