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Notice from landlord re: hallway obstruction

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Notice from landlord re: hallway obstruction

Postby cheeseburger69 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 11:45 am

I left a couple of beach chairs in the hallway for a few weeks, previously, bicycles were stored for years on the top floor.

I got this message from the management today:

Dear Tenant;
It has come to our attention that you have encumbrances in the public hallway.

As a result you are in violation of section 27-2007(c) of the New York City Administrative Code, which says that "In addition to all other duties imposed upon him or her by this code, no tenant, or any other person, shall: place any encumbrances before or upon, or cause access to be obstructed to, any fire escape, or obstruct by a baby carriage or any encumbrances, by the public halls or any required means of egress." You are also in violation of your lease which requires you to obey and comply with all city laws and regulations.

Section 27-2009(2) of the New York City Administrative Code says that tenant may be subject to eviction for a violation of the code resulting "from repeated or continued conduct which causes damage to the dwelling unit or substantially interferes with the comfort or safety of any other person."

If the management will see any encumbrances such as flower pots, bicycles, carriages, rugs, chairs, etc. on the fire escapes, stairwell landings, and or in the public hallways, the Management will have no option other than to remove those items without notice with an additional fee.

You must remove the encumbrances from the public hallway immediately, within 24hrs. If Management feels that you are resisting or fail to comply, Landlord may end lease.


I removed the obstructions but I am irritated by the wording of the final paragraph, given that I have lived here for 5 years with no issue arising before. Is it true they can "end the lease" if not removed in 24 hours? Thank you.
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Re: Notice from landlord re: hallway obstruction

Postby TenantNet » Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:16 pm

You posted in the rent regulated forum, so I have to assume you are RS. The rules differ for RS than for unregulated tenants.

In general hallway obstructions are not permitted, but that's a safety thing, not a tenant thing. It's probably in the Fire Code, but might also be in the Housing Maintenance Code or Multiple Dwelling Law or other places. I haven't checked. (the LL's note says the NYC Admin Code, which in that case would be the Housing Maintenance Code.)

But then of course, what is a hallway obstruction? If you leave a bag of garbage out overnight with the intent on taking it to the building's trash area the next morning, is that an obstruction? Hallways widths will differ depending on when the building was constructed. My hallway is 4.5 feet, so would a bag of trash obstruct it? Probably not, but city inspectors might not be so forgiving. OTOH, bicycles parked semi-permanently would probably get a violation. And of course, overnight is one thing; but continuously will likely get someone's dander up. Chances are it was the super or some nosy neighbor.

The city would issue a violation to the LL, not the tenant. In general fines cannot be passed on to tenants, but might be allowed for unregulated tenants and if specified in the lease. For RS tenants, one argument is that a fine could be construed as a rent overcharge.

Still, a LL can force a tenant to correct the nuisance (it can be both a nuisance and a lease violation). For RS tenants, the LL would have to send a Notice to Cure (NTC) and if not cured, then a Notice of Termination (terminating the lease) followed by a Holdover Petition. Unless it's a "non-curable" offense, the lack of an official NTC can get a case kicked out of court. Some LLs are just sloppy or want to cut corners.

That's why when you get a notice from the LL, in most cases you should "cure" the violation, i.e., stop the offending behavior, the take photos showing the cured condition and mail it to the LL by certified mail. Why, because some LLs will take tenants to court no matter that the condition no longer exists.

If the condition never existed (or caused by someone else), then write a letter explaining that. You can't correct a condition that does not exist, has never existed, or no longer exists.

As for the bicycles, while some might say it depends if there's an egress to the roof that might be blocked by the bikes (assume the hall lights are off and there's smoke and fire), in most cases that should be avoided.

The letter you received is sort of appropriate. For RS tenants, I don't think they can fine you (even if in the lease, I don't think so, but have a lawyer answer that issue).

Can they remove items? Maybe/probably. But they can't toss them in the trash. They probably would have to store them for a period of time with notice to the tenant so you can retrieve them (and keep them within your apartment).

As for "ending the lease," see my description of the process above. They can send a NTC right away, but the entire process would take some time. And in general, even if you went to court and went to trial, judges usually give tenants some extra time to comply (except you might be hit with the LLs attorney fees).

Overall, best thing is to move the beach chairs and bikes, and let the LL know. Don't let it escalate.
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Re: Notice from landlord re: hallway obstruction

Postby cheeseburger69 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:19 pm

Correct, this is a RS unit. I think their request is reasonable, but the wording was needlessly harsh. But what can you do. In any case, thank you for the thorough response. I am tempted to ask them to repaint my apartment in response since it has not been repainted in 5 years, but I will let it pass.
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