Q&A: Cleaning Up the Clutter

Q. Certain owners in our building keep some of their personal belongings (i.e., bikes and tricycles, baby strollers, skates, tennis racquets, etc.) in the hallways next to their condo units. Sometimes we have to squeeze by all of their hallway clutter just to get inside our own units. Is there any legislation about personal belongings in stairwells or hallways? If not, what can I do to fix this problem? It’s really frustrating. 

                             —Mess in Montclair

A. “Your inquiry indicates that certain owners clutter the hallway with their personal belongings and that this has caused you a fair amount of aggravation. Since you refer to your neighbors as ‘owners,’ I assume that you are in a building consisting of condominiums, cooperative apartments or another similar form of property ownership,” says Stuart Lieberman, Esq., a founding shareholder attorney with the law firm of Lieberman & Blecher, P.C. in Princeton. “If that assumption is correct, then the hallway is most likely a common area that should not be occupied by anyone's personal belongings. 

“In a condominium or similar forum of property structure, a common area is an area that services all of the units. For example, this might include parking lots, swimming pools, courtyards, and sidewalks. 

“When condominium community is located within single building, hallways and lobby areas are usually considered to be common areas. Therefore, under this form of ownership, the hallway in question is most likely meant for everyone to enjoy, meaning that no one has the right hog it with their personal effects. 

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