Q: Packages have been getting stolen from my rental building in Sugar Hill, Harlem. We’ve been getting more packages delivered since the pandemic, and they are often left in the lobby with no protection. Tenants are working hard to notify neighbors about the deliveries, but we don’t all know each other. How do we petition our landlord for lockers or a mailroom? Would he be liable for stolen packages after he’s been put on notice? What can we do to protect our deliveries?
A: Package theft is a major problem around the country, and it’s only getting worse as more of us shop for everyday items online. It’s especially bad in New York City, where a 2019 New York Times analysis found that a stunning 90,000 packages are lost or stolen every day. So how can you protect your deliveries?
Unfortunately, the answer probably doesn’t lie with your landlord. He is required to provide operable locks for the front doors and an intercom system, but, unless the lease requires it, he does not have to provide you with lockers or a mailroom. (A landlord must, however, provide locked mailboxes or deliver the mail to the tenants.) Even when the locks and intercoms work properly, packages can still go missing. The landlord could argue that they were taken when a tenant buzzed in the wrong visitor; that a tenant mistakenly took the wrong package; or that the delivery was lost in transit and never arrived.
“The landlord would not be legally required to grant what the tenants are petitioning for,” said Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants.
Even if your rights are limited, you could still circulate the petition and take a collaborative approach. “They might want to consider offering to contribute to the construction costs as a way of inducing the landlord to proceed,” Mr. Himmelstein said.
Lockers would be a good solution, if you can convince the landlord that they’re a worthwhile investment — he might be persuaded to see them as an amenity to lure tenants in a slow rental market. Package Concierge, which has lockers in 132 buildings in New York City and New Jersey, has models that can be stored in hallways, breezeways and even in outdoor yards. “It’s not as large of a footprint as some people make out in their heads,” said Donna Logback, head of marketing for Package Concierge.
If you can’t get any help from your landlord, consider having your packages delivered to alternative pickup locations, like Amazon Hub lockers or UPS stores. Even some neighborhood bodegas, florists, pharmacies and supermarkets collect packages. This isn’t an ideal solution, as it means carrying packages home, but it could help protect your deliveries.
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