Q: When I moved into my rent-stabilized apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, three years ago, my daily newspaper was delivered to my door. The building owner has since died, and his son, who inherited the property, has refused to allow the newspaper delivery person to enter the building, so the papers are now dumped in the outer lobby. If I don’t pick mine up at 6:30 every morning, it’s often filched. What recourse do I have?
A: Despite declining print subscriptions, newspapers are still, apparently, hot items frequently plucked from unsecured building vestibules. “It’s been a real bear since the start of the pandemic,” said Alan Rafal, the vice president of Mitchell’sNY, which has been delivering newspapers in New York City since 1946.
In a building without a 24-hour doorman, a delivery service needs access to a building’s locked inner door. Without the cooperation of building management, a delivery person has no option but to dump the papers in a spot where anyone can grab them. And it’s not easy to persuade landlords to help with an issue that may be near the bottom of their list of concerns.
“Back in the day, people would say, ‘I don’t care what my landlord says, I’m going to give you a key’” to the lobby, Mr. Rafal said. “Now they’re much more wary.”
As a rent-stabilized tenant, you do have some leverage. For starters, you could argue that the new policy is a reduction in required services. “The bottom line is that as a rent stabilized tenant, they can make the argument that this is a change to the original terms of their tenancy,” said Jennifer Rozen, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants.
Start with a letter from a lawyer stating that unless service is restored, you will demand a rent reduction. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the state. This situation presumably affects multiple stabilized tenants in the building, so you could file a building-wide complaint.
The state can be slow to act. But there are other tactics worth trying: Band together with neighbors and collectively pressure management to step up and give a key to the delivery service. The building managed to get the papers safely inside in the past; it can do so again.
Ron Zulli, the president of Alpert’s Newspaper Delivery Service in Manhattan, suggests asking your delivery service to ring your buzzer when the paper arrives so you can retrieve it immediately. You could also ask a nearby bodega or deli to accept it on your behalf, or even ask the doorman of a neighboring building to help. “The deli is generally cooperative because they will usually get more business from holding this newspaper,” Mr. Zulli said.
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