New York City Apartment Residents Sue Landlord Over New Smart Locks [Updated]
from the cutting-your-night-short-because-your-apartment-key-is-dying dept
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Latch sends the following message, clarifying that the locks at the center of this lawsuit do not require a smartphone to open (emphasis in the original):
The residents of the building in question were given keycards to access the locations where Latch was installed to specifically negate any resident needing to have a smartphone app to unlock the building’s doors. (As you likely know, keycards and key fobs have been a common method of entry for decades.) Latch is sensitive to the different preferences and routines of its users, which is why it offers users three methods of entry—residents can use the smartphone app, a doorcode, and a physical keycard. Latch is the only smart access system that provides all three of these methods.
Nothing like rushing home to put your phone on the charger only to realize you can’t get into your own apartment without a charged phone. Getting
into locked out of your own place: there’s an app for that. Maybe the app — and the smart lock it engages with — works fine 99% of the time. The other 1%, however, will see you locked out, even after performing an interpretive dance with your emotionless partner.
If your Latch App is unlocking from too far away
1. Navigate to ‘My Profile’ in the left menu
2. Change the ‘Unlock distance’ to ‘Near’
The Latch device is not unlocking when I hold my phone close to it
1. Navigate to ‘My Profile’ in the left menu
2. Ensure ‘Hold-Near to Unlock’ is on
3. If problem persists, change the ‘Unlock distance’ to ‘Nearest’
The numeric LEDs are not lighting up when I touch the Latch Lens
1. Ensure you are tapping the center of the Latch Lens to wake it up
2. Tap with the pad of your finger to ensure the Latch Lens registers your finger. Sometimes small fingers or the tip of your fingers do not register on the Latch Lens
3. Power reset the Latch device by removing the batteries or in the case of Latch R, resetting the power to the Latch R
YOUR PARTNER STARES IMPASSIVELY
The Latch Smart Lock — pictured and detailed above — is at the center of a recent lawsuit filed in New York. Residents of an apartment complex whose main entrance lock has been replaced with the unblinking Latch eye are suing their management for making their lives more difficult.
A group of tenants in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment complex say they are being locked out — by technology.
And now they are suing their landlord for the return of their low-tech keys to the front lobby.
“It’s ridiculous that everyone is spending all this money to go to court just to get a key,” said Mary Beth McKenzie, 72, an artist who has lived in the West 45th St. building for nearly five decades. “For 45 years I’ve had a key. And now, we can’t get keys.”
One longtime resident — a 93-year-old man — has decided to become a shut-in, rather than wrangle with the tech. There’s still a standard lock guarding another entrance to the building, but it does not provide access to the elevator. Three flights of stairs isn’t really an option, so he’s chosen to forgo venturing out of the building.
In addition to limiting access to those with compatible smartphones, the new locks require tenants to sign an 84-page agreement with the manufacturer. The smart locks also notify landlords of tenants’ entrances by default. This “feature” can be turned off by end users (renters), but it really seems like something that should be opt in for renters, rather than opt out.
While building owners are given plenty of leeway when it comes to security, replacing physical locks with a smartphone-dependent product isn’t really the way to go. As ubiquitous as smartphones are, there are still renters who don’t own one. The thing about this case is that there’s still a regular lock in place. It’s just that the landlord won’t give tenants that prefer the old school approach keys for the lock.
The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development had previously slapped the owners of the building with two violations for capping the keyhole on the lock to the lobby door when they introduced the technology. The violations were removed last week following a second HPD inspection. The owners removed the cap from the lobby lock, but still did not issue mechanical keys to those tenants who asked for them…
Yeah, that’s not going to look good in court. The management company had a chance to make everyone happy. Instead, it chose to piss off a few tenants repeatedly.