A couple bought into a co-op in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a month ago, and promptly began putting their baby in a stroller and exiting and re-entering the building through the front door. Then one day, an employee of the managing agent informed them that parents with strollers must use the rear door. The couple reread the resident handbook and found no such rule. If a rule is not written, does it have to be followed?
“I find it hard to believe that a co-op would have a rule that babies cannot enter the building’s front door if they are in a stroller,” attorney Beatrice Lesser, a partner at Gallet, Dreyer & Berkey, tells the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times.
Such a rule could be discriminatory if it is not applied evenly to all residents. For example, if residents are allowed to pull wheeled grocery carts through the front entrance, why not strollers? Regardless, the only enforceable rules are the ones in the governing documents. So it is possible that the rule exists but is not listed in your resident handbook. If you do not have these documents, ask the managing agent for copies.
However, you do not need to go digging for answers. You could simply continue pushing the stroller through the front entrance. If you encounter the employee again, introduce yourself as a shareholder and ask for his or her name and title. If the stroller rule is mentioned again, request a copy to review.
Speak with other parents in the building and ask where they stand on the policy. As a group, you could contest any such policy with the co-op board, arguing that it unfairly discriminates against families with children. And of course there’s always the nuclear option: filing a discrimination claim with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
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