—Squeezing By in Secaucus
“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 a condominium community is located within a 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 to hog it with their personal effects.
“If there is a covenants committee in place, you should file a complaint with the covenants committee. Most forms of common ownership, including condominiums and co-ops, have some sort of dispute resolution process in place that allows neighbors to raise the kinds of concerns put forward by the questioner in this instance.
“Otherwise, if there is a building manager, ask the manager to have these unfriendly neighbors remove their personal belongings. The key to this is to document the transgressions by taking pictures and with the use of a witness or two.
“This should probably take care of your problem. If it doesn’t, you may be able to file a lawsuit in your municipal court or a similar forum. However, this should be your very last resort and in all likelihood will not be necessary. At the end of the day, this is a question of how neighbors should treat each other. Since you will have to live in close proximity no matter what, it is best to keep your cool, try not to point an accusing finger, and remember that one attracts more flies with honey than with vinegar!”