News & Insights

Home » News & Insights » Virtual doormen, digital mailrooms, and building access laws

Virtual doormen, digital mailrooms, and building access laws

NYC, Real Estate Developments, Real Estate Legality

by Boris Stefanik, from Unsplash

E-commerce has dramatically changed shopping habits, and new security and “smart-home” technologies have also changed the way many people configure their homes. Many apartment buildings in New York City, whether co-op or condo, have implemented these changes to varying degrees. Some of the newest technologies even include smartphone app-based services that allow residents to buzz in delivery personnel. In China, where facial-recognition technology has been implemented in many parts of daily life, some apartment-dwellers can enter their buildings with a quick nod to a camera. Perhaps most importantly, many buildings have adopted virtual doormen or digital mailrooms because of the major cost-savings that can be achieved, albeit with the loss of the personal touch of human services. [1]

But have these new technologies and the habits accompanying them led to notable changes in the law? For the time being, no. If, for example, a co-op board has voted to replace a full-service doorman with one of the many digital alternatives or simply an intercom buzz-in system, this is unlikely to alter the legal liability dynamics if people who should not have access to the building are found inside. The same is true in the case of mailrooms that have been semi-automated, and in which neighbors sometimes find their packages may go missing. However, as these changes to building service continue to take hold, we may see changes in both legal liability as well as customs around comings-and-goings in residential buildings. People rightly seek to uphold the security and privacy of their homes, and the rules governing shared entryways and spaces in apartment buildings can be a contentious (and litigious) space when people feel their neighbors are acting in an uncourteous or irresponsible manner. [2]

[1] Sidransky, A.J. (September 2018) Deliveries in the Age of Digital Staff from Cooperator https://cooperator.com/article/virtual-doormen/full Accessed September 23 2019

[2] Stebner, B. (February 2016) Can ‘remote’ doorman systems replace real doormen? from Brick Underground https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2015/10/virtual_doorman_vs_regular_doorman Accessed September 23 2019

Recent Posts

Impact of Shorter COVID-19 Quarantine on Workplaces

On Monday, the CDC announced changes to its recommended isolation and quarantine time from 10 days to 5 days for asymptomatic people with COVID-19. They recommend that people leaving isolation after 5 days continue to wear a mask for the following 5 days. The CDC also...

Restaurants Sue Over Vaccine Mandate

Restaurant operators sued Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City over Key to NYC, the new indoor vaccine mandate program, on August 17-the same day the mandate went into effect. A group of restaurants in Staten Island, through the Independent Restaurant Owners...

Financial Regulators’ New Target: Social Media Influencers and SPACs

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) will conduct three new regulatory sweeps in an effort to combat various activities causing extreme fluctuations in the financial markets. FINRA has chosen to target special purpose acquisition companies (“SPACs”),...

Does WARN Apply to Virus Closures?

Enterprise, in Benson et al. v. Enterprise Leasing Co. of Florida LLC et al., has tried to argue that the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”), through its natural disaster exception, does not apply to closures caused by COVID-19. Two Florida...