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Do Renters Have the Right to a Physical Key?

by Nena Perry-Brown

Latch app in use, courtesy of New York Times. Click to enlarge.

Smart-home technology has become increasingly prevalent and wide-reaching over the past few years, even enabling self-guided apartment tours. But what happens when you're a renter and your property manager installs smart technology in your building that you don't really want?

The residents of one Manhattan apartment complex are dealing with such a matter right now, and are suing for their right to have a traditional key system. As reported by the New York Times, five tenants of a building on West 45th Street sued the building's owner in October, demanding access to the building without use of the keyless entry system.

This particular keyless entry system, installed by New York-based company Latch, requires users to download an app and create a profile in order to use their smartphone as a key. For this building, some of the locks were outfitted with mechanical locks, while others, including the lock providing access to the lobby and its mailboxes and elevators, required use of Latch via the app or a key card. 

Linda Rosenthal, a member of the New York State Assembly who represents the tract where this building is located, introduced a bill last week limiting how companies like Latch use personal data and requiring that landlords provide "traditional" means of entry so tenants have the option of not using smart access.

“This is probably the wave of the future,” Rosenthal said. “And so we have to make sure as we gallop toward that brave new world that there are privacy protections and alternatives to using apps. That people who are older or disabled or have other issues are not being inconvenienced.”

See other articles related to: technology, real estate technology, new york city, manhattan

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/do-renters-have-the-right-to-a-physical-key/15172

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