Q&A: Does Distributing Letters to Board Members Constitute 'Harassment'?

Q. I distribute copies of letters to our board president and all board members under their apartment doors in order to ensure that they all get one – and I don’t trust the chairwoman to distribute them. The board secretary does not wish to receive copies and considers this practice 'harassment.' Is she correct?

        —Trying to Get a Message Through 

A. “There is no civil cause of action for harassment under New York law, and the mere act of sliding a letter under the door is unlikely to result in criminal liability,” says attorney Rachael Ratner of the New York City-based firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, LLP.  “Therefore, from a strictly legal standpoint, the board secretary is not correct. 

“In the interest of being a respectful neighbor, however, you should stop sliding letters under this board member’s door if you know she finds it to be harassing. The better tack is to consult your proprietary lease (or bylaws, if you live in a condominium) to determine the proper method of communicating with the board of your building. Many proprietary leases and condominium bylaws have 'notice' provisions that contain specific instructions on how to send correspondence to the board. 

“Oftentimes, there are requirements that correspondence must be sent by certified mail, or through an overnight courier such as FedEx. Following these instructions offers two advantages: First, the board becomes legally charged with having been put on notice about the issues and/or complaints raised by your correspondence. Second, you’re much more likely to succeed in getting your message across. Since your board secretary is apt to disregard any letters that come through under her door, chances are better she’ll actually read letters she receives in her mailbox. 

“As a final piece of advice, it’s also a good idea to read your house rules to determine if complaints are required to be sent to your building’s managing agent.” 

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4 Comments

  • My board, have so much family members in the building. No elections, only two of them run the building and most people are always hiding to talk. It's scary.
  • As a coop shareholder, I have reside in coop for 40 years. New tenants moved above me Two years, with two small children. I have complain several times due to the children activities from 6:40 am into the hour of 2:00 am, 7 days a week. The activity has increased with every complaint. It has gotten very hard to live and function with daily chores. I find myself and family leaving my apartment twice a day. I have written to many agencies with no support. The constant actives have created cracks in the ceiling which have turned into holes. I am at my last ends with this family. I contacted the management agent last year 2019 due to the constant noise at all hours of the day n night. He made an appointment and did not show up. He finally showed up this year 2020 in July. He claims that the holes and cracks were made by me and the ceiling fan. He insisted that the holes were done by me bounding a broom in the ceiling. I am now being harassed by the managements lawyers with eviction notices. Since my upstairs neighbors know that they have the management and lawyers on their side. My family and I have no peace and the constant noise is stressing everyone in my family out. I need to know what and how to rectify this situation legally. Thank you.
  • i live in a Coop in brooklyn, NY, near brooklyn college i am a shareholder for over 20 years. A man moved in next door ( 2 years) and our terraces are connected he rents the apartment from a shareholder. this man next door to me SMokes Marijuana all day long 7 days week. My apartment stays full of Marijuana smoke. I have covered 75% of my terrace with plastic to keep the smoke out. I can not use my air conditioner or open windows in my living room else the place is filled with Marijuana smoke. I complained to Management and they do nothing, What are my Rights should i call the police every time i smell it? P.S several shareholders complain on different floors about annoying marijuana smoke. Management does nothing
  • Stressed Shareholder on Monday, November 23, 2020 11:20 AM
    We have atleast 3 strong bullies on the coop Board who violate coop bylaws and when it’s brought to the notice of the Board they cry racism. There is one bully who’s day time job is do research on technology and how it affects various race and here she is bullying other people who are not of her race. She has always overlooked the violation of this other member (who is of her race), but bullies rest of the Board when it comes to ideas which are not align with her thoughts. These two have also bullied the coop lawyers and continuously look down upon the management company when the legal counsel and management tried to give their honest opinion about the coop’s financial condition. This beautiful DC coop is going to be ruined very rapidly in next 2-3 years if these bullies are not reported anytime soon. I have already decided to leave my beautiful unit and move away from this negativity before these bullies ruin my hard earned money invested in the unit What are our Shareholder’s rights? These people cheat even in the voting process