In today’s world, almost anything you can fathom can be conveniently delivered to your door. Whether it is pet food, medicine, or your next meal, you can have seemingly anything you want delivered without ever leaving the comfort of your condominium unit. But has this convenience become a right? Can a condominium control such deliveries?
March 11, 2020, marked the day that the World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Subsequently, many countries, including the United States, declared national emergencies to mobilize resources, implement public health measures, and respond effectively to the deadly disease. The effect of which spurred many Condominium Associations to implement safety regulations that prohibited, decreased, or limited deliveries dropped off at one’s doorstep. While the possibility of contagion loomed large in 2020 and unit owners were not too concerned with fighting for their deliveries in the face of a still somewhat unknown virus, the pandemic frenzy has since subsided, and some Associations are still seeking enforcement of safety protocols that hinder free access to unit owners’ doorsteps.
With the pandemic gone, could safety continue to be used to rationalize a prohibition on deliveries to the door of a condominium unit? The governing documents could expand on what constitutes a safety concern over the areas the Association has full control over to promulgate such rules. For example, if the building has a lobby, anyone delivering may be required to wait in the lobby instead of being given access to the elevator and floor where the unit is located. Can a unit owner claim that they have a right to receive deliveries to their unit door? There is no statutory right that allows such deliveries. Therefore, a lot will depend on the Association’s governing documents and reasonable rules and regulations. Further, the facts of each situation would have to be considered when making a determination.
Consider this hypothetical: a disabled unit owner, who relies wholly on deliveries to his/her door for access to basic necessities such as food, water, medicine, care products, and so forth, lives in a community that has restrictive regulations prohibiting third party services to deliver to the elderly unit owner’s door. According to the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), this elderly unit owner, who depends on these delivery systems for such basic necessities might be able to seek a reasonable accommodation to the Association’s rules and regulations, absent a legitimate safety concern like a pandemic.
When these delivery issues come up the Board of Directors should seek the advice of legal counsel. If the Board wants to put restrictions in place, discuss them in advance with counsel to ensure that they are reasonable.