Sunday, May 6, 2007

Doormats in Hallways

There has been some discussion on Habitat about doormats in the hallways. The bulleted points below are my synopses of some of the highlights. My summary is listed below the bullets.

  • Mats in the hallways are a violation of the fire code (see below)
  • Tripping and slipping hazard
  • If there is a fire or blackout, and the hallways are smoky or dark, people might trip or slip and get hurt
  • Mats placed in the common hallways are deemed "abandoned" and become the property of the coop - if someone slips on one, it is the coop's liability, not the shareholder's liability.
    • The coop's insurance company might not cover the damages because insurance doesn't cover "illegal" actions.
    • Even if the insurance company did cover it, it would likely raise rates or deductibles.
    • If the coop didn't or couldn't use the reserves, it would have to charge an assessment to all shareholders to pay the damages to the shareholder who slipped.

  • Interferes with floor cleaning
  • Doormats should be relegated to inside the apartments
  • Banning doormats in hallways is a sign of a busy-body Board - the likelihood of someone slipping and suing is minimal - the Board has better things to do with its time, and the Management has better things to do than enforce this.
  • One member asked his local firehouse, and they said they don't care about doormats
  • One member described an incident in his building where a mover slipped on a mat and the coop had to pay $10,000+ for his medical bills. The coop has since banned mats in the hallways.

My summary: Even if mats in the hallways were not against the fire code (see below), they still prevent a tripping/slipping hazard, one to which our building wouldn't want to be liable for. House rules often prohibit obstruction of the hallways - a rule which is obviously rarely enforced in regards to doormats. Is it in the best interest of our shareholders to ban doormats in the hallways to 1) protect them and their guests from slipping and getting hurt, 2) enforce the house rules, and 3) protect them from financial loss (assessment, reserve loss, increased insurance) in case of the building's liability?

Rules of the City of New York - Title 28
Housing Preservation and Development

§25-221 Obstruction of Exits Used as Means of Egress in Case of Fire in Various Multiple Dwellings.
(a) In every multiple dwelling, public halls, stairs, corridors and passageways and every part thereof used as means of egress shall be kept free and clear of encumbrances at all times in order that free, safe and unobstructed egress to the outside of the building may be maintained during all hours of the day and night.
(b) Passageways required by the Multiple Dwelling Law which provide egress from yards and courts shall, at all times, be kept clear and unobstructed. Doors and gates at the ends of such passageways are prohibited except that a door or gate equipped with an approved type knob or panic bolt protected by a steel plate and readily openable from the inside may be permitted at the building line. Doors and gates provided with key locks are prohibited. Windows on grade level at sidewalk, yard or court or at roof level of an adjoining building may have bars, but at least one window in any apartment or suite of rooms shall be without bars or obstructions of any kind in order to afford a second means of egress.

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