J.I. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our building has a locked front door that all residents have voted several times to keep for our safety, especially since there have been break-ins in the past few years. Recently, our postal worker lost the key and now our building is being asked again to vote on whether or not to keep the front door locked. However, this time the Board of Directors indicated that locked front doors are frowned upon and if we choose to keep the lock, all services including our mail will be now our own responsibility. Meaning they will no longer deliver our mail to our address, even though they have replaced the key. Is that legal? Can a Board really sacrifice residents’ safety and rights to receive mail because they “frown upon locked doors?”
Mister Condo replies:
J.I., the Board is the de facto managing authority of the association. They are all elected or appointed volunteers and they conduct the business of the association, including decision about association-owned items like the security door. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column so I cannot comment on whether or not their actions are legal. I will say that their actions don’t appear to be in the best interest of unit owners who have become comfortable with the locked door. Is the U.S. Postal Service somehow involved in this decision as well? Perhaps the mail carrier is uncomfortable carrying a specific key that only works on your lock? I am not aware of any “right” to receive mail by unit owners. In fact, many associations have outdoor mail receptacles that are keyed to work with a Master Key that most, if not all, letter carriers have access to. My guess is that the solution here lies somewhere in the middle and we need a few more facts. If it is as simple as getting the postal service a new key, that would seem to be an ideal solution. However, until we know for a fact that the postal service will accept that solution, I think some more investigation is required. If this is entirely the Board’s decision and the unit owners aren’t happy with the decision, you may need to elect some new leaders who will side with the wishes of the majority of owners. All the best!