Q: Packages were stolen from my rental building in Sugar Hill, Harlem. More packages have been delivered since the pandemic, often left unprotected in the lobby. The tenants work hard to let the neighbors know about the deliveries, but we don't all know each other. How do we apply for lockers or a post office at our landlord? Would he be held responsible for stolen packages after being notified? What can we do to protect our deliveries?
A: Parcel theft is a huge problem across the country and is getting worse as more of us search for everyday items online. It is particularly bad in New York City, where a 2019 analysis by the New York Times found an impressive 90,000 packages are lost or stolen every day. How can you protect your shipments?
Unfortunately, the answer probably doesn't lie with your landlord. He must provide functional locks for the front doors and an intercom. Unless the rental agreement requires this, it does not have to provide you with any lockers or a post office. (However, a landlord must provide locked mailboxes or deliver mail to tenants.) Even if the locks and intercom systems are working properly, packages can be lost. The landlord could argue that they were taken when a tenant attracted the wrong visitor; that a renter mistakenly took the wrong package; or that the delivery was lost in transit and never arrived.
"The landlord would not be legally obliged to provide what the tenants request," said Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan attorney who represents tenants.
Even if your rights are restricted, you can still circulate the petition and take a collaborative approach. "You may want to consider contributing to the construction costs to get the landlord to continue," said Himmelstein.
Lockers would be a good solution if you can convince the landlord they are a worthwhile investment – they might be convinced that they are a convenience to lure tenants into a slow rental market. The Package Concierge, which has lockers in 132 buildings in New York City and New Jersey, has models that can be stored in hallways, breezes, and even outside courtyards. "It's not as big as some people in their heads," said Donna Logback, director of marketing at Package Concierge.
If you cannot get help from your landlord, consider having your packages delivered to alternative pick-up locations such as Amazon Hub lockers or UPS stores. Even some bodegas, florists, pharmacies and supermarkets in the neighborhood collect packages. This isn't an ideal solution as it means carrying packages home, but it could help protect your shipments.
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