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Old 08-31-2017, 07:31 PM
 
451 posts, read 466,122 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sawyer2 View Post
Check with the landlord as others suggested ....... but you will likely find that that the back stairs and landing are common areas and the deck is assigned/private.
The deck can't be totally private because they need the additional means of egress.
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Old 09-03-2017, 07:23 AM
 
Location: Boston
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I've always assumed pretty much all stairs that get you to your apartment are shared, any extension of your 'deck' that is NOT a staircase is yours. So if your on the first deck/floor, the exterior deck on the first floor is yours. The second deck/floor gets their own exterior deck. Basement gets the privilege of entirely separate entrance.

Still just ask your landlord, shouldn't be a big deal.
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Old 09-04-2017, 05:52 PM
miu
 
Location: MA/NH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBornMassMade View Post
I've always assumed pretty much all stairs that get you to your apartment are shared, any extension of your 'deck' that is NOT a staircase is yours. So if your on the first deck/floor, the exterior deck on the first floor is yours. The second deck/floor gets their own exterior deck. Basement gets the privilege of entirely separate entrance.

Still just ask your landlord, shouldn't be a big deal.
However, with the first floor apartment having sole use of that first floor deck, they still need to made sure that the second floor tenants have easy accessibility to be able to walk through at ANY time. It's a housing/fire code rule that all apartments have TWO different ways to exit their dwellings.

So the first floor deck has to be clear of obstacles for the safety of the tenants of the entire building. The decks should not be considered additional "living space".
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Old 09-04-2017, 06:28 PM
 
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Everyone is answering about what is legal or in leases but nobody is answering about customary practices so I will chime in. The thing about Boston is "dibs", whomever lives where ever and how ever FIRST gets the right to dictate (by their behavior) the usage of the communal space, in all practicality. So if you move in and the first floor has already essentially dominated the whole back porch, guess what? You go around front. You are right to feel uncomfortable walking through this space because they don't want you walking through this space (emergency aside). If they wanted or expected you to use this space they would not be living with the door open and dogs in/out. So yes, as far as your daily life goes that is THEIR private porch.

Even if the lease says that a backyard is communal, when you move in and the first floor family have clearly lived there ten years and the backyard is full of their stuff, guess what? It isn't communal. These are the kinds of things you need to scope out when you scope out the apartment.

The good news is that if the first floor tenants move out then YOU get DIBS to redefine how that space gets used. If you want to reclaim that entrance you will need to be seen using it often and maybe even leaving a coat on the bannister to mark your territory when the new tenants move in, so they don't perceive it as private.

Take this to heart because it comes into play every time you move or even buy a house. There is very limited space and many too many people, establishing turf by usage is an important strategy for living in the city.

Besides, winter is coming; you will never be using those uncovered, slippery, wooden, unshoveled, icy back porch steps.
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Old 09-05-2017, 12:41 PM
 
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Thanks for the responses everyone! I will definitely check with the landlord. I suspected that the back staircase is probably common space, so I appreciate hearing what seems to be the consensus.

Salamander: I hear you re: not wanting to use the back steps in winter. But unless the landlord (or I) shovel the side of the house, we would have to walk over more icy ground when going around to the front door. As for the dibs argument, that does not seem very neighborly, let alone enforceable. If someone wants to claim land as theirs, they should a) buy it themselves, or b) lease it from the owner. But leasing an apartment AND claiming common space does not seem right, city-living or no. For the same reason, I don't park my car across the entire shared driveway when the neighbors' cars happen to be out, even though that would be more convenient when schlepping groceries out of my car. I may have been more receptive to an argument about dibs when I was younger, but at my (still relatively young) age, with an infant daughter, and winter coming, claiming the closest, common entrance to the driveway as one's turf just seems, well, uncool.

Emm: regarding your question, it is more than just us perceiving the back staircase as being the first-floor apartment's turf. They also put a baby fence at the bottom of the stairs between the first-floor landing (which has their washer/dryer) and the second-floor landing (which has ours). That fence, combined with their dogs having free reign over the first-floor landing, contribute to the first-floor apartment's claiming of the back entrance to the house.

Just to clarify, my wife and I (and our infant daughter, for that matter) love dogs, and in fact we have one ourselves. I would be okay with using the back entrance if, for example, the dogs were on the first-floor deck with their owners—though in that situation, out of respect and neighborliness, I would go around to the front door rather than disturbing them on the deck. But even if both first-floor dogs were friendly, I would not want me or my wife to be greeted by strange dogs while we are carrying our daughter up common stairs and the owners are somewhere in the first-floor apartment.

I hope this does not come across as piling on, but for full disclosure: one of the dogs is not friendly. He has growled at me, and the first-floor neighbors introduced their second dog as the "non-aggressive one." Also, the first dog barks angrily at us even when we use the front door: when we park in the back driveway and go up the exterior stairs to ground level, he barks at us from the first-floor deck; then, when we walk around the side of the house to our front door, he barks at us from the first-floor's living room windows.
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Denver CO
19,159 posts, read 10,200,595 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityHallEast View Post
Emm: regarding your question, it is more than just us perceiving the back staircase as being the first-floor apartment's turf. They also put a baby fence at the bottom of the stairs between the first-floor landing (which has their washer/dryer) and the second-floor landing (which has ours). That fence, combined with their dogs having free reign over the first-floor landing, contribute to the first-floor apartment's claiming of the back entrance to the house.

Just to clarify, my wife and I (and our infant daughter, for that matter) love dogs, and in fact we have one ourselves. I would be okay with using the back entrance if, for example, the dogs were on the first-floor deck with their owners—though in that situation, out of respect and neighborliness, I would go around to the front door rather than disturbing them on the deck. But even if both first-floor dogs were friendly, I would not want me or my wife to be greeted by strange dogs while we are carrying our daughter up common stairs and the owners are somewhere in the first-floor apartment.

I hope this does not come across as piling on, but for full disclosure: one of the dogs is not friendly. He has growled at me, and the first-floor neighbors introduced their second dog as the "non-aggressive one." Also, the first dog barks angrily at us even when we use the front door: when we park in the back driveway and go up the exterior stairs to ground level, he barks at us from the first-floor deck; then, when we walk around the side of the house to our front door, he barks at us from the first-floor's living room windows.
I'm still trying to picture this - is there a baby gate blocking the access up to your unit? That's a fire hazard and no amount of "claiming this space" is sufficient to get past that no matter how long it's been going on or that a prior tenant may have put up with it.

But in reality, it's not first come gets to claim and you can't change that, it's more that you'd make waves by changing it, and whether or not you are willing to make those waves. Honestly, I would not be willing to walk all the way around the house from the parking area, and I'd make those waves. (and I say that as someone who lived in triple deckers in the Boston area, so I'm not unfamiliar with the dynamics). Just because people stick lawn chairs in parking spaces doesn't make it right either - personally, I did respect the parking space claiming when someone had dug out a spot. But some people got carried away and thought they were able to permanently claim an on street parking space all year round just because they had a habit of parking there and felt everyone was suppose to just leave the space for them. Nope. And so I'd also push back on not being able to access the back stairs to my own apartment. They may "own" their landing, and even the deck. But not the stairs.
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Old 09-13-2017, 07:10 AM
 
Location: Boston
1,181 posts, read 884,329 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miu View Post
However, with the first floor apartment having sole use of that first floor deck, they still need to made sure that the second floor tenants have easy accessibility to be able to walk through at ANY time. It's a housing/fire code rule that all apartments have TWO different ways to exit their dwellings.

So the first floor deck has to be clear of obstacles for the safety of the tenants of the entire building. The decks should not be considered additional "living space".
This is true I guess im just assuming most double decker have porches that span the whole front facade of the building as opposed to just a portion as youll see on three deckers.. and it shouldnt be hard for your neighbor to not block your door.
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Old 09-14-2017, 08:08 AM
 
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Hi everyone - OP's wife here to provide an update. First, to clarify, the 1st and 2nd floor decks are on the back of the house, facing our parking spots. To access our back staircase, we need to walk onto the 1st floor apartment's deck, in one door to the landing, then up the back stairs to our landing. Currently, the 1st floor tenants leave the door to their deck and the back door into their apartment open, allowing their dog to go in and out freely. They placed a baby gate at the bottom of the back stairs to prevent their dog from coming upstairs to our apartment, which is clearly a fire hazard for us.

Anyway, we spoke to our landlord and he agreed with you all that we absolutely should have access to the back steps, and he contacted the tenants to ask them to clear the stairs for us. That hasn't been done yet, but we're following up to make sure it gets done. Thanks again for all your input!
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:28 PM
 
451 posts, read 466,122 times
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We appreciate the update, thank you. Good luck.
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Old 09-14-2017, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Denver CO
19,159 posts, read 10,200,595 times
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Thanks for the update (and funny user name, btw!) I'm glad the landlord has agreed with you, because this isn't just a convenience thing, it's a safety factor that they think they are entitled to block you access in the back. That really is incredibly rude and thoughtless.
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