Whether you live in a Midtown high-rise or in a more spread-out outer-borough HOA, security—for both property and physical safety—is an important issue in any condo community. Who can come in, at what times, how long they can stay, and how freely they can move about the property is of concern to any conscientious board/management team. In order to maintain a safe, secure building or association, administrators must draft and enforce clear rules regarding non-resident visitors and guests—while at the same time not overreaching and attempting to regulate how unit owners conduct themselves in their own apartment units.
Guests, Sublettors, Roommates
“In New York, you’re involved in a vertical living arrangement,” says Phyllis Weisberg, a partner with the law firm of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, LLP in Manhattan, “and you have a lot of people living in a building. Who’s sharing your halls? Who’s riding on your elevators? Is it somebody who’s been vetted in any fashion, and whom you’re comfortable with?”
Indeed, the sheer number of residents living in any one building can be the greatest impediment to safety. All it takes is one person to hit the buzzer and let in a presumed pizza-delivery guy, and the next thing you know, a rash of burglaries goes down. This is the main reason why boards are so strict when it comes to guests. Not that your visiting college buddy is going to steal stuff from the apartment down the hall, but that buddy simply doesn’t have as much of a vested interest in keeping the building secure.
“Owners care about the building a lot more than people who are in there for a week, or two weeks or whatever it is,” Weisberg says. “Short-term occupants or guests may not care if they’re blasting music during a party, because they’re not going to be around. They may not care if they walk their dog and the dog soils the hallway. They just don’t have the same stake in the community. And therefore, in general, they can present problems. Will they abide by the rules that are important for quality of life?”
Guests very well may. Sublettors may not. Illegal sublettors have even less incentive to abide by the rules. This is not to say that all guests and sublettors will trash the joint, of course—only that, as Weisberg points out, the only people who have a real incentive to hew to the rules are the owners of the apartment or condo unit. “The problem is that guests aren’t owners,” says Jeff Stillman, vice president of Stillman Property Management in Mamaroneck, “so they aren’t necessarily going to care for the building as much as an owner would.”