New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
At an 80-unit Upper West Side co-op in a doorman building, the board restricted food deliveries when the pandemic hit — three years ago! — holding them at the front door and requiring shareholders to come down and retrieve them. While many buildings have rescinded similar policies as the pandemic fades, this board has refused to restore door-to-door delivery, saying only that some residents do not like the service. Does the board have the right to permanently revoke this service?
New York is a city where many ovens remain cold, or even serve as storage space. So naturally the door-to-door delivery of takeout food is a cherished tradition. “It’s one of the perks of living in a building with a doorman,” Debra Guzov, a Manhattan lawyer who represents co-ops and condo boards, tells the Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times.
Most buildings revoked the service during the pandemic to limit outside visitors. But by now, the majority have restored it, says Dan Wurtzel, the president of FirstService Residential New York, which manages about 600 residential buildings. The holdouts often cite security concerns or staffing issues. Some residents balk at the idea that delivery people could wander the halls unattended.
Delivery culture has changed with the proliferation of online services such as DoorDash and Seamless, which replaced in-house delivery workers. “None of these restaurants are using their own employees to deliver” anymore, Wurtzel adds. “There was a rapport, but now it’s a different person” for every delivery.
With that familiarity gone, management might be reluctant to let just anyone into the building. As an alternative, building staff could take the delivery to your apartment, but then another staffer would have to cover the front door.
If you want the service back, ask for it. Check the house rules to see if any exist about deliveries. If you find one, call the managing agent and ask that door-to-door deliveries be restored. If you don’t find a rule allowing deliveries, you and your neighbors should write the board asking for one to be enacted, or call the managing agent and ask someone to speak with the board about finding a way to resolve the issue.
“House rules are supposed to support the interests of individual shareholders, but also the community at large in the building,” Guzov says. “One could argue that it is in the best interest of the building to support this service.”
But remember: a housing cooperative is not a democracy. Among a co-op board's many powers is the power to enact house rules. If the majority of shareholders are unhappy with the board and its rules, the ultimate solution is to vote the board out.
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