The Co-op That Stole Christmas Trees: Is It Legal?

New York City

Can a Co-op Ban Christmas Trees?

Dec. 3, 2014 — 'Tis the season for Christmas trees, and for elevators, hallways and lobbies to be covered in pine needles. And don't get us started on lighting fixtures in common areas that get knocked about as people drag their trees up to their apartments. They are sure pretty once they are indoors and decorated, but Christmas trees can be a real drag for building staff not only when people first get them, but also (if not more so) when it comes time to throw them away. According to Brickunderground.com's latest Ask an Expert column, one co-op board has come up with a Grinch-like plan: A Christmas tree embargo. Well, so claims the building's superintendent. But is a co-op board legally allowed to issue a building-wide ban on a popular (not to mention religious) symbol? Brickunderground.com experts say the drastic move is not likely to stand up should someone challenge it. Before building residents join in a chorus of "Bah, humbug!" they should first get the policy in writing directly from the board — not via word of mouth from the super. If, in fact, the co-op board intends on playing the role of Scrooge for the holiday, then residents can challenge... and compromise. Rather than ban trees, advises Mark Levine, executive vice president of property management firm Excel Bradshaw Management Group, the board should establish rules for residents to minimize mess and damage. Everybody wins.

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