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Q&A: Does Distributing Letters to Board Members Constitute 'Harassment'?

Q. I distribute copies of letters to our board president and all board members under their apartment doors in order to ensure that they all get one – and I don’t trust the chairwoman to distribute them. The board secretary does not wish to receive copies and considers this practice 'harassment.' Is she correct?

        —Trying to Get a Message Through 

A. “There is no civil cause of action for harassment under New York law, and the mere act of sliding a letter under the door is unlikely to result in criminal liability,” says attorney Rachael Ratner of the New York City-based firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, LLP.  “Therefore, from a strictly legal standpoint, the board secretary is not correct. 

“In the interest of being a respectful neighbor, however, you should stop sliding letters under this board member’s door if you know she finds it to be harassing. The better tack is to consult your proprietary lease (or bylaws, if you live in a condominium) to determine the proper method of communicating with the board of your building. Many proprietary leases and condominium bylaws have 'notice' provisions that contain specific instructions on how to send correspondence to the board. 

“Oftentimes, there are requirements that correspondence must be sent by certified mail, or through an overnight courier such as FedEx. Following these instructions offers two advantages: First, the board becomes legally charged with having been put on notice about the issues and/or complaints raised by your correspondence. Second, you’re much more likely to succeed in getting your message across. Since your board secretary is apt to disregard any letters that come through under her door, chances are better she’ll actually read letters she receives in her mailbox. 

“As a final piece of advice, it’s also a good idea to read your house rules to determine if complaints are required to be sent to your building’s managing agent.” 

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5 Comments

  • My board, have so much family members in the building. No elections, only two of them run the building and most people are always hiding to talk. It's scary.
  • As a coop shareholder, I have reside in coop for 40 years. New tenants moved above me Two years, with two small children. I have complain several times due to the children activities from 6:40 am into the hour of 2:00 am, 7 days a week. The activity has increased with every complaint. It has gotten very hard to live and function with daily chores. I find myself and family leaving my apartment twice a day. I have written to many agencies with no support. The constant actives have created cracks in the ceiling which have turned into holes. I am at my last ends with this family. I contacted the management agent last year 2019 due to the constant noise at all hours of the day n night. He made an appointment and did not show up. He finally showed up this year 2020 in July. He claims that the holes and cracks were made by me and the ceiling fan. He insisted that the holes were done by me bounding a broom in the ceiling. I am now being harassed by the managements lawyers with eviction notices. Since my upstairs neighbors know that they have the management and lawyers on their side. My family and I have no peace and the constant noise is stressing everyone in my family out. I need to know what and how to rectify this situation legally. Thank you.
  • i live in a Coop in brooklyn, NY, near brooklyn college i am a shareholder for over 20 years. A man moved in next door ( 2 years) and our terraces are connected he rents the apartment from a shareholder. this man next door to me SMokes Marijuana all day long 7 days week. My apartment stays full of Marijuana smoke. I have covered 75% of my terrace with plastic to keep the smoke out. I can not use my air conditioner or open windows in my living room else the place is filled with Marijuana smoke. I complained to Management and they do nothing, What are my Rights should i call the police every time i smell it? P.S several shareholders complain on different floors about annoying marijuana smoke. Management does nothing
  • Stressed Shareholder on Monday, November 23, 2020 11:20 AM
    We have atleast 3 strong bullies on the coop Board who violate coop bylaws and when it’s brought to the notice of the Board they cry racism. There is one bully who’s day time job is do research on technology and how it affects various race and here she is bullying other people who are not of her race. She has always overlooked the violation of this other member (who is of her race), but bullies rest of the Board when it comes to ideas which are not align with her thoughts. These two have also bullied the coop lawyers and continuously look down upon the management company when the legal counsel and management tried to give their honest opinion about the coop’s financial condition. This beautiful DC coop is going to be ruined very rapidly in next 2-3 years if these bullies are not reported anytime soon. I have already decided to leave my beautiful unit and move away from this negativity before these bullies ruin my hard earned money invested in the unit What are our Shareholder’s rights? These people cheat even in the voting process
  • My grandmother moved into this co-op in 1977 I was 6 years old. I lived on my grandmother on and off throughout my life she passed away in 2015. I'm the executor of her estate, and I moved into the apartment which is completely paid off in 2016. I've been to court one time with the management company due to maintenance in arrears which I promptly paid off once her estate was settled. As I write this. Sunday September 5th 2021, I am sitting in a dark apartment with no electricity, gas, or hot water. This is because there was a fire on Wednesday due to flooding by hurricane Irene. The sewer drains flooded (they flood every time it rains for years and it's never been repaired) the lobby, water then got into the boiler room on the ground floor and the electrical room which is located above my apartment I live on the top floor the 7th floor. When the fires began, I was alone with my three cats there was no alarm except for the door man who is yelling get out of the building the buildings on fire. I went to my terrace to see what the commotion was and notice smoke billowing down from the roof and could not understand if the boiler exploded why is the smoke coming down from the roof to my terrace. I quickly ran into the house and started getting my cat carrier and looking for my cats, not 5 minutes later my apartment began to fill with smoke while I was trying to round up my cats, and then the lights went out. I was terrified for my life and my animals. There was my 92-year-old neighbor who's known me since I was a child alone and terrified who I had to help up the stairwell to the roof since there was no way down through all the smoke that was coming up. There are plenty of elderly people in this building also handicapped people who are wheelchair bound that we're trapped in their apartments through all this commotion. The EMS had to come and physically remove these people. I was trapped in my apartment with my cats I had to stay on my terrace with the kitties wondering whether the fire was going to reach up to the 7th floor to my apartment. I thought I was going to die. Finally the firefighters showed up about 10 minutes into the melee and it was about an hour before I gotten word that the fire had finally been put out but there was still dealing with the smoke. It was pouring rain and some people were literally outside in their underwear. Nobody was led into the building until hours later the wee hours of the morning. They have not provided any emergency lighting or generators. Today(5 days later) was the first day they finally rigged up lights and an extension cord only in the lobby so people can charge their devices, the stairwells are still pitch Black. And all of us up here on the 7th floor have to run up and down seven flights in the dark daily several times a day. This was due to mismanagement and neglect of the building by the board and the building management company. The president of the board is a bully a very nasty individual who has pushed other board members to quit their positions because of his verbal abuse. The management company is rude and nasty to the shareholders and makeup any type of fine and penalty just to extort money from the shareholders. We are being charged a special assessment in addition to our maintenance, yet the only repairs that were made was the tiles on the floor of the elevators which have not been upgraded in 40 years but there elevators break down constantly and they focus on the tiles. also I just learned that the management company is now refusing to pay for the sewage so if something is backed up and this building has terrible pipes it's on us to repair it although in the bylaws it states that anything behind the Walls is the responsibility the management company. We were the only building on the block to catch fire. So this is definitely due to neglect and mismanagement of this building. What can I do to fix this?