New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




How Boards Can Back Up Their Building's First Line of Defense

Westchester County

Enforcing the House Rules

The building's house rules were clear: no delivery people were allowed to go up to any apartments. This included UPS, FedEx, mail carriers, fast-food restaurants, and — much to the chagrin of one unit-owner — online grocery operators.

The unit-owner's problem was a matter of convenience. In her view, the point of ordering bags and bags of heavy groceries is that you don't have to carry anything yourself. The concierge's problem was complicated. While he was sympathetic, he couldn't break the rules.

The first step he took was to express his regret that letting the delivery person through was against the house rules. But he suggested that she come down to the lobby and use the building's cart to wheel her groceries into the elevator and up to her apartment.

Unfortunately, she wasn't satisfied. Soon, the concierge saw a pattern emerge. Every time her grocery delivery arrived, he would have to explain why he couldn't let it through. Ultimately, he was forced to go to the board and report that he felt very uncomfortable because there was now friction between the unit-owner and him simply because he was trying to do his job.

This situation is one that boards can try to stop before it happens, especially as more residents use online delivery services.

What can a board do to prevent this situation from occurring and recurring?

  • Have good working relationships with the building staff, including, if not especially, the concierge. Let them all know you are accessible so they feel comfortable approaching you with any issues, including those involving unit-owners or shareholders.
  • Open the channels of communication with building residents by sending them reminder notices of specific house rules. You can also highlight rules in a newsletter, and stress the importance of their cooperation to ensure they and their neighbors are safe.
  • Speak directly with tenants who ask building staff to break the house rules for them. It needn't be an uncomfortable confrontational situation. Invite them to coffee and explain that if the concierge breaks the rule for one, he could be coerced into breaking them for everyone. Above all, express that very often it's a question of safety.

Remember, if the message comes from the board, it will carry far more weight than if it is delivered by building staff whom no resident may feel has authority to tell him or her how to behave. That may not solve all the problems, but it could go a long way to keep the peace.


For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >>

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?