ASK REAL ESTATE
What to Do When a Neighbor Is Taking Your Newspaper
Q. A neighbor in my Manhattan co-op has occasionally been taking my newspaper or another neighbor’s newspapers from our doormats. When I inquired, management said it was a shareholder issue and would not get involved. Is this true? Or is there something that management could do?
A. The newspaper presumably has your name and address affixed to it, meaning it is your property and not some expendable flyer like a takeout menu. And another shareholder’s possessions have gone missing, too, making this a larger issue — and one that management should address. “What’s it going to take for this building to get involved?” said Steven D. Sladkus, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. “For them to take the doormat, too?”
The neighbor’s behavior could be considered objectionable conduct and could violate house rules. Management should do what it can to prevent theft, as the situation could escalate. Who’s to say Fresh Direct deliveries won’t go missing next? “If we are permitting deliveries in the building, we should be responsible for making sure people get what is delivered to them,” said Daniel Wollman, the chief executive of Gumley Haft Real Estate Management .
The board could write a letter to all the shareholders reminding everyone that newspapers are not collective property and should be left alone. It could also install hallway cameras as a deterrent and to collect evidence. Write the board and managing agent another letter, insisting that they take action. Ask the other affected neighbor to sign the letter, too, as two voices are usually stronger than one.
Ask management to provide you with an alternative delivery location. Perhaps the papers could be left with a doorman or with the superintendent. Or, find out if you could place a basket atop your doormat, which might serve as a deterrent. “The perpetrator will be less likely to pinch the paper if he or she has to dig into a container,” said Nancy R. Mitchell, the author of “Etiquette Rules! A Field Guide to Modern Manners.”
You could write a letter to the culprit (assuming you are certain who it is). Point out that private property is being stolen and your sense of community has been shaken. Remind the neighbor that these subscriptions are neither cheap nor free. Perhaps the neighbor will do the right thing and start respecting other people’s property.