The Real.Est List
Ask an Expert: Hallways with too much personality
Q. My co-op just spent several hundred thousand dollars renovating the hallways and lobby, and I am dismayed to see it undercut by some of my neighbors putting holiday decorations and their kids' artwork on their doors. In my opinion, hallways should be for public enjoyment, not personal expression.
What's a "normal" policy on this kind of thing? Any suggestions for getting my point across to the board?
A. The house rules of most NYC buildings prohibit the 'personal expression' you describe, says property manager Michael Wolfe, president of Midboro Management.
According to Wolfe, the typical language reads as follows:
"No public hall of the building shall be decorated or furnished by any Lessee in any manner without the prior consent of a majority in number of all the lessees for whose apartments such hall serves as a means of ingress and egress and without the approval of the Board of the Board or the Managing Agent."
This rule can apply to doormats as well as door decorations, says Wolfe.
Buildings that do allow seasonal expression should establish a protocol about mounting and hanging items--for example, specifiying the use of Command products, which won't damage doors, when affixing decorations, says Wolfe, and any rules promoting or prohibiting decorations should be applied with consistency to avoid accusations of favoritism.
Check your proprietary lease, which contains your house rules, to see what your building's official policy is. If door-decorating is not allowed, speak to your managing agent or a member of the board.
Note that even though you may prefer pristinely uniform halls, prospective buyers might not agree.
"I recnetly showed a single buyer a property in a building with newly renovated hallways and she commented that the building felt 'cold' and she feared being lonely in the building," says real estate broker Doug Heddings, president of The Heddings Property Group. "And if a buyer has children, it would likely be perceived as an asset."
Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert! Send us your questions.
See all Ask an Expert.