Q: My landlord no longer allows delivery people to leave unattended packages for tenants in the building. Carriers cannot leave packages with our 24-hour lobby attendant, nor can they go upstairs and leave them in front of apartment doors. Instead, we have to reschedule deliveries for when someone is home. Is this legal?
A: As New Yorkers order more goods online, buildings have to figure out where to store all those boxes. A 200-unit building may receive around 50 packages a day, and more during the holidays, with a box waiting an average of 16 hours before its recipient retrieves it, according to Georgianna Oliver, the chief executive of Package Concierge, a storage locker company.
As draconian as your landlord’s solution to this common problem may seem, your rights to fight it may be limited. Market-rate tenants would have no right to challenge the policy unless their lease included a provision guaranteeing package delivery, which is unlikely. Rent-regulated tenants could file a complaint with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the state agency that oversees such apartments, on the grounds that the policy amounts to a reduction of services. However, the agency may find the issue too minor to warrant a rent reduction or an order to restore the service, according to David Hershey-Webb, a lawyer who represents tenants.
There are better ways to manage package deliveries than the one your landlord devised, even if it’s not illegal. “The buildings that we handle — and we handle 600 buildings — they find solutions,” said Dan Wurtzel, the president of FirstService Residential New York, a property management company in the city.
Some buildings carve out space in common areas for package storage, particularly when they renovate. Others address staffing concerns — a building with a 24-hour concierge, for example, may need to increase staff so that the lobby is not left unattended when an employee goes to the basement to retrieve a package. Other buildings invest in storage lockers.
Managing the situation is not easy, particularly when space in the city is at a premium. “In some of these places in New York, it’s hard to find a hallway or a space for the lockers; they just don’t have the space,” said Ms. Oliver, whose company’s lockers are in 1,750 buildings around the country, but only 18 in New York City.