NYC Tenants Win Settlement for Physical Keys Over Smart Locks

Privacy concerns have led a group of NYC tenants to take legal action to get physical keys to their apartments instead of the smart locks which had been installed.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered landlords of a New York apartment buildings to provide physical keys to any tenant who doesn’t want to use the Latch smart locks which had been previously installed in September.

Mary Beth McKenzie, and her husband, Tony Mysak, and additional tenants sued their landlords after the smart lock installation last year, voicing concerns over privacy, as the smart lock and its app were required to get into and out of the building.

For example, 93-year-old Mysak wasn’t able to use a phone and couldn’t navigate the app. That meant he was trapped inside his home because of the smart locks.

Other tenants worried about the smart home app collecting data on their comings and goings, downloading location information to sell for marketing purposes.

For their part, Latch said it didn’t collect data like that was currently revising its privacy policy.

However, Latch smart locks are in more than 1,000 buildings in New York, meaning this case has set a precedent for future challenges from tenants who have privacy, security or use concerns.

Michael Kozek, the attorney representing the Manhattan tenants, said: “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. 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.”

However, the landlord’s attorney notes that, “The only reason this settled is because my client didn’t want to waste more time and energy on this.”