Brooklyn, NY asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York

Q: Can a neighbor's estranged family member use our lobby to store clean and dirty clothes?

A neighbor's son has been storing his suitcase in our building's lobby for just over 5 weeks now. He changes clothes there daily and keeps his dirty clothes in a trash bag. The neighbor will not let him in her apartment b/c of COVID-19 contamination concerns (b/c this son is homeless). They feed him daily meals in the hallway. We've previously had to call emergency medical services when this estranged person was overdosing in the lobby of our building. We overheard that he just got out of rehab for heroin. Is there anything we can do about this situation? We've brought it up to management, but they haven't done anything to this point. Any suggestions on how to resolve this situation would be much appreciated. For further context, we just had a baby and we are concerned about physical safety and possible contamination of our lobby.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Gregory Byrnes
Gregory Byrnes
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: While there is no general prohibition on landlord's to restrict a tenant's guest's access to the common areas of the building, this situation may be an exception. It sounds like the person is residing in the hallway which would be a violation of the building's certificate of occupancy. Additionally, it sounds like the person is making that area of the building uninhabitable and endangering the building tenants. This would be a violation f the warranty of habitability and your lease. You should contact management again (preferably in writing) and escalate the problem to the Courts if they do not remedy it. Specifically, you would be suing the landlord, not the lobby occupant, since you and the hallway occupant do not have a legal relationship. You can find the steps to commence a proceeding via Order to Show Cause here:

Of course it is always advisable to speak to an attorney on this matter.

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