Q&A: Hallway Clutter

 Certain shareholders in our building keep some personal belongings (i.e., bikes,  baby strollers, skates) in the hallways next to their apartments. Sometimes we  have to squeeze by their hallway clutter to get to our own units. Is there any  legislation about personal belongings in stairwells or hallways? If not, what  can I do to fix this problem?  

      —Cluttered Cooperators  

 “Section 235-6 of the Real Property Law imposes on all owners of residential  property (the cooperative corporation is the owner of the property in a  cooperative and each shareholder is a tenant) the obligation to ensure tenants  are not subjected to ‘any conditions, which would be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to…safety.’ To the extent the bikes, skates or strollers present some hazard, then the  cooperative would be required to abate the condition,” says Abbey Goldstein, Esq., of the law firm of Goldstein & Greenlaw, LLP, in Kew Gardens.  

 “Furthermore, the house rules of most co-ops specifically provide that ‘no article will be placed in the halls.’ The only exception is that sneakers of children under 12, which have run into  conflict with dog poop, may be kept in the hall in a plastic bag to guard  against foul odors.  

 “To the extent that the house rules do not have a provision applying to leaving  items in the hall, the board can pass such a rule by simple majority vote at a  board meeting where a quorum is present.  

 “The board should correspond with the offending residents, and it has the  authority to take legal action, if necessary. The first step you should take is  to speak with your neighbors in the hope it can be dealt with amicably. If that  doesn’t work, a letter to the management company would be appropriate. The managing  agent should write the offending individual(s). However, if that fails they  might choose to remove the items (not the sneakers) or commence a legal action  (this would usually be overkill for the kind of offense described.)”  


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