NYC tenants successfully argue for right to a physical key over a smart lock

Residents of an apartment block in New York City have forced their landlord to provide them with the physical keys after an intelligent lock was installed on the building's lobby door. CNET reports that a physical key has been designated as a "required service" that the owner is obligated to provide as a result of the agreement.

After the installation of the intelligent lock of the Latch brand last September, five tenants sued their owner, arguing that the use of the smart lock and the application that accompanied it created serious privacy problems. His lawyer argued that it could be used to "monitor, track and intimidate tenants." The tenants said that the Smart Lock app could track their location and notify the owner when they enter through the door equipped with Smart Lock, the New York Post Reports .

In addition to the privacy issues, the tenants also argued that at least one resident in the building, Tony Mysak, 93, was unable to use the smart lock. The smart lock controlled access to the building's elevator, and Mysak struggled to use the stairs. As a result, they argued that it had become a virtual encierro since the system was installed.

The landlord's attorney disagreed with the tenants' claims and argued that the lock could be operated using a numeric code without the need to install the application. Latch, which makes intelligent blocking, said its application does not collect location data for marketing purposes and that it would revise its privacy policy.

The case resulted in a private agreement between the owner and the tenants, and highlights the real growth problems within the smart home industry due to the lack of clear laws on how technology should be used.

Not only tenants who are struggling with the rise of smart home technology, either. Last June, The New York Times reported that smart home devices have become increasingly common tools for domestic abusers, as they can remotely control technology to harass and intimidate others.

The Smart Blocking case in New York City does not establish any firm legal precedent on how owners can use these devices. However, with smart Latch locks installed in 1,000 residential buildings in New York alone, this is unlikely to be the last time courts will have to examine smart home technology and its complex implications.

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