Can My Building Force Me to Use Its Preferred Moving Company?
Q: I live in a high-rise luxury rental building on the Upper East Side. Recently, building management sent out a “welcome package” that included a rule requiring tenants to use one of three approved moving companies for moves in or out of the building. I plan on moving out when my lease expires. Am I really obligated to hire one of these companies even though I’m signing the contract and paying workers who will be moving my personal belongings into another property?
A: Luxury buildings have been known to enact policies allowing the use of only a few trusted vendors. They set these rules largely to protect their properties, with their fancy details and décor.
“The finishes in those buildings are very expensive to repair,” said Dan Wurtzel, the president of FirstService Residential New York, a property manager. “Landlords want to at least know the companies that are going there understand the care that needs to be taken.”
But here’s the problem with your building’s tactic: If the rule is not included in your lease, it can’t be enforced. “The landlord can’t come along and just impose an extra restriction,” said Jennifer Rozen, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants.
So check your lease. If it doesn’t restrict you to those movers, you can push back. Once you choose your preferred moving company, send management a letter including its name and contact information, a certificate of insurance that names the landlord as an insured party, and a note stating that you are within your rights to choose your own movers. Take pictures of your apartment, the elevator and the hallways during and after the move, in the event that the landlord points out damage.
You might, however, want to use one of the three suggested movers. It won’t hurt to get quotes from them and find out if they offer a preferred rate as approved vendors. If they do, you could pay less and avoid a confrontation.
“Does the tenant want to spend a lot of time and money getting an attorney to write a demand letter so that they can use their own moving company?” said Ms. Rozen. “Or do they just want to concede and use one of the three and not deal with it?”
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