Q&A: Charging Fee For Lockers

Charging Fee For Lockers

Q What happens if there were storage lockers in our building that were either given free to the shareholders or they were ‘sold’ for a set fee of $500? Once a shareholder left, the storage unit reverted back to the co-op. Now there are new storage lockers, and the co-op wants to charge a fee per month only to those new storage locker holders—not to those shareholders already in possession of lockers. Is this fair? How does one argue that either everyone pays something, or no one pays?

—Spurned Tenant

A “The situation you describe is akin to a license arrangement,” says Thomas E. Kass, a partner at the New York law firm of Kantor, Davidoff, Wolfe, Mandelker, Twomey & Gallanty P.C. “This is similar to a lease, but it involves a “right to use” space, rather than a “right to occupy” space. In addition, a license is generally subject to termination on short notice, usually 30 days, by the licensor, whereas a lease is usually a more long term arrangement.

“The decision by the board to not charge the original licensees with a monthly charge is fair because when those shareholders originally licensed their units and paid the $500 fee, they did so with the expectation, and perhaps a written agreement, that they would not be subject to additional license fees during the term of the license, which apparently was until they move out of their apartments.

“The old licenses can not be compared to the new licenses because the agreements were made at different times in the context of different market conditions. Your argument is akin to saying that it’s unfair that you paid more for your apartment in 2006 than your neighbor paid for an identical apartment in 2008. Markets change and what’s fair today may not look fair tomor

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