Something has emerged as a point of contention between my boyfriend and our downstairs neighbor, so I'm hoping I can get some outside perspective on it. This might be a little long, but I'm trying to be thorough.
Background: We live in a community that was built right after WWII to house returning veterans and their families. There are "blocks" of 4 attached houses and each house has an apartment on the first floor and on the second floor. The two apartments are exactly the same, the biggest difference is that the first floor apartment has direct access to the basement, which in our case is where the washing machine is as well our storage unit, while the second floor tenants have to walk around the block of houses to the back in order to access the basement. Also, we share a front entrance: the front door opens and directly in front of you is the entrance to the first floor apartment and the stairs leading up to the second floor apartment. This isn't our house, but it looks close enough that it should give you an idea of what I'm describing: http://bit.ly/XUPzcQ
Anyway, my boyfriend, "Max," and I live in a second floor apartment in a house in the middle of a block of houses. Max has lived there for about 15 years and has had a number of first floor neighbors over that time. "Kevin" lives in the first floor apartment now and has lived there for probably about 3 years. To the best of my knowledge, we both pay the same amount in rent. Max has also been doing all of the yardwork since he's been living here.
Last night, Max and Kevin were having an argument about something completely unrelated when it emerged that Kevin is incredibly resentful of Max's charcoal grill and his grilling habit. For years Max has had a charcoal grill that he's kept behind the front bushes and chained to the front porch railing. If you look at the picture I linked to, you should be able to picture what I'm talking about. To get the grill, he does have to go in front of Kevin's window, but the grill itself is not technically under the window, it's off to the side. When he grills, he does it in the front yard for reasons I'll get to in a moment. So it involves a fair amount of running up and down the stairs between our kitchen and the grill in the front yard. Which is another thing Kevin had issues with, he kept referring to Max going through the front entrance with "dead meat" (I think he may have meant "raw meat" since it came up in the context of disinfecting). I should point out that the meat, cooked or raw, is always in a container of some kind and Max is always careful about contamination.
The simplest solution would be to use the backyard, but we don't for a number of reasons. One, the backyard is not fenced, it opens directly onto an alley, and there is nowhere to chain the grill without it potentially blocking the entrance to the basement. It would be stolen within days if he put it out there without chaining it. Second, to access the backyard we have walk around the neighboring two houses. That's not a huge deal, but it is very inconvenient. Lastly, Kevin has a dog that he lets out into that backyard. She's usually on a leash connected to his back steps, but the leash is fairly long, so she usually roams around our backyard and the neighbors. Even though he picks up after her, there's almost always a piece of poop in the back. If Max wanted to grill, he would essentially have to schedule around the dog.
After all this (finally!), my question is: Is Max overstepping himself by using the front yard like this?
I've live in apartments before where the first floor apt had exclusive access to the yard, but that was almost always in the case of a fenced backyard that could only be accessed through the first floor apartment. I've also lived in places that were set up exactly the same as this place and it was understood that both tenants had equal access to the yards. I realize that it probably makes us look kind of low-rent to be doing this in the front yard, but our landlord doesn't care about Max's grill and the way he uses it. Max confirmed it with him last night after the argument and he's even seen us out in the front yard with the grill, so he knows how it's used. This has the potential to become a real issue between Max and Kevin, so I need some outside perspective.