Q: I live on the third floor of a small rent-controlled walk-in building in the East Village. I have a 1 year old baby and have left my stroller on the landing since it was born. Nobody complained until a new tenant moved in and told the landlord that the stroller was a trip hazard. Now the landlord tells me to move the stroller, but it seems dangerous to carry him and my baby up two flights of stairs. What can I do? And what would happen if I ignored the complaints?
ON: It is not permitted to park a pram in the hallway. The municipal fire protection regulations prohibit this and probably also your rental agreement. Your neighbor could have come to you with his concerns instead of calling the landlord, but he's not wrong.
"It's illegal because it can prevent firefighters and residents from getting in and out of the building during a fire," said Samuel J. Himmelstein, an attorney who represents tenants.
If you ignore the letter, your landlord could take you to a housing court where you will likely have the option to remove the stroller to avoid eviction. However, you can be held liable for legal fees. And you don't want the judge's headache. Instead, you have to do what other parents do in walk-ups: carry baby and stroller up the stairs.
It is not easy. I lived in a walk-up when my son was an infant and toddler and my back still remembers it. Consider swapping out your current stroller for a lighter, more compact model that you can lift onto your shoulder. Now that the baby is older, an umbrella stroller can be a great option. Find a safe place in your home to stow the stroller or hang it on a hook behind a door. Once your son starts walking and climbing stairs, teach him to walk up the stairs in front of you on his own. The sooner he can, the easier it will be for you. Right now, you need to find a way to get him and his gear in and out of the apartment safely.
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