Skip to main content

Judge says landlord must provide physical alternatives to smart locks

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Smart locks are meant to make life more convenient for people. There’s just one problem: That doesn’t apply if the lock is forced on you by someone else. Tenants in a New York City apartment objected to the landlord’s decision to install Latch smart locks to their homes. A legal challenge from those residents has won them the right to be given the option of using a physical key instead of the smart locks, CNET reports.

The entire issue started in September when the landlords of a New York City building decided to replace locks in their apartment complex with internet-connected locks from Latch. To use the locks, tenants were required to download an app to their smartphone that would allow them to access their apartment.

That requirement rubbed some residents the wrong way. Some raised issues of privacy stemming from the smart locks. Would landlords be able to track their comings and goings through the app? Would personal information and other potentially sensitive information be collected by the app, which they are required to use just to enter their own apartment? Others simply objected to the needless complexity of the smart locks. Mary Beth McKenzie and her husband, Tony Mysak, led the lawsuit against the landlords, citing the 93-year-old Mysak’s struggles with using the smartphone app. He found it difficult to use and was effectively trapped in the house because of it.

A judge in New York City overseeing a settlement between the residents and the landlords sided with the tenants and ordered the building managers to provide physical keys for apartments. The option will be made available as an alternative for those who would like to opt out of the smart lock. The case won’t set a legal precedent, seeing as it is a settlement and not a ruling handed down by a court, but it does represent a win for those who would like to avoid potentially invasive technology being forced on them.

“This is a huge victory for these tenants and tenants throughout New York City. These types of systems, which landlords have used to surveil, track and intimidate tenants, have been used frequently in New York City,” Michael Kozek, the attorney representing the tenants in Manhattan, said in a statement. “These tenants refused to accept the system, and the negative impact it had on their lives. Hopefully they will be an inspiration for other tenants to fight back.”

Editors' Recommendations

AJ Dellinger
AJ Dellinger is a freelance reporter from Madison, Wisconsin with an affinity for all things tech. He has been published by…
This $4,000 smart door comes packing a Ring video doorbell and Yale smart lock
The Masonite Smart Door installed on a home.

Smart home gadgets span a wide range of categories. From video doorbells and robot vacuums to outdoor cameras and smart speakers, smart gadgets can be found in all corners of the modern home. Now, thanks to Home Depot, you can now snag the first residential smart door -- and it features a built-in Yale smart lock and Ring video doorbell.

Before you rush out to your local Home Depot, it’s worth noting that this futuristic smart door comes with a hefty price tag of $4,000. Multiple styles are available, including two different sizes and additional sidelites, and depending on your configuration, its price can balloon to an eye-watering $7,000.

Read more
How to improve Yale Assure Lock 2 battery life
The Yale Assure Lock 2 installed on the outside of a door.

Depending on which Yale Assure Lock 2 model you own, you could see anywhere from three to 12 months of battery life. That’s a shocking range -- and if you’re not prepared to change batteries every 90 days, you’ll want to do everything you can do to optimize its performance.

From picking the right model to perfecting your installation, here’s a look at how to improve Yale Assure Lock 2 battery life.
Picking the right Yale Assure Lock 2

Read more
U.S. government to launch a new cybersecurity program for smart home devices in 2024
The US Cyber Trust Mark logo on an off-white background.

Smart home devices are only becoming more popular, and it seems they’ve now piqued the interest of the U.S. government. On July 18, the Biden administration announced a new cybersecurity certification and labeling program for smart devices that will help customers find devices that are “safer and less vulnerable to cyberattacks.”

The so-called U.S. Cyber Trust Mark program is intended to get manufacturers thinking more carefully about the cybersecurity of their products and ensure they’re safe for the general public to have in their homes. It’s not expected to roll out until 2024, but the program would cover a wide range of products, including smart refrigerators, smart microwaves, smart televisions, smart thermostats, fitness trackers, and more.

Read more