Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reader mailbag: Can the landlord 'drill' the lock to gain access to my apartment for simple repairs?

An EVG reader shared a note from his landlord ("not one of the usual suspects") about repairs taking place to the building's intercom ... Seems fairly routine, but the workers need access to each apartment... per the note, the residents must either be at home or leave their keys with the super... if not ...



... "we will be forced to drill your lock and provide you with new keys" ... presumably to the new locks that will magically appear after being drilled off...

The reader asks, Is this legal? (And for the record, the reader says the landlord/management company is generally cool.)

Seems kinda extreme? (And yes, looking forward to the inevitable, "If you don't want the landlord drilling off your lock, then buy your own apartment/building" comment.)

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Previously on EV Grieve:
Reader mailbag: Places to eat that have that old East Village vibe (45 comments)

Reader mailbag: What do I do about my new neighbors who smoke pot all the time? (52 comments)

Reader mailbag: Where is a good place to get a cup of coffee in the East Village before 6 a.m.? (25 comments)

Reader mailbag: What has happened to the Cooper Station Post Office? (41 comments)

15 comments:

shimmerstwo said...

Drilling the lock is illegal unless it is a extreme emergency like a broken water pipe etc

Anonymous said...

Well if the intercom does not get fix/replaced then complaints get filed against the landlord, but if tenants refuse access to the apartment to make such repairs is the tenant breaking some part of the lease renters agreement? I suggest hide or lock up all valuables, take a picture of your TV if you are that paranoid then hand over the keys and let the landlord do what must be done. I don't see what the big deal is.

S.S. said...

Intercoms are required by law in multiple dwellings. Failure to have an operable intercom puts the landlord in an illegal situation and puts tenants in a dangerous situation.

Although not as imminent a problem as a leaky pipe, it is a problem, and I would bet a court would uphold the landlord.

Anonymous said...

Probably a good idea to ask a tenants' rights pro at HPD.

Anonymous said...

There are likely tenants in this building complaining, and rightly so, about the danger they face by not having a working intercom system. It's a serious safety issue and has to be taken care of.

Anonymous said...

Pick your battles.

Most leases clearly state that the apartment must be accessible for repairs or emergencies.

I'm not sure what the big fuss is allowing a landlord into your apartment to make improvements and repairs. Even many co-ops have this requirement.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:31

There isn't a "big fuss" to allow the super or repair people into the apartment.

The question, if you read the post, was about the legality of the landlord drilling off the lock if the residents aren't there to make a non-emergency repair.

Anonymous said...

Please explain why not having a working intercom is a safety issue. I live in a building where the system is highly unreliable--sometimes it works, other times not, and sometimes it buzzes incessantly and stays open for hours on end (now that is a safety issue, that I get). But just having a system that's "out" is an inconvenience for receiving visitors and packages, but what else? It's not like you are forced to have a doorbell if you live in a single-family dwelling. And actually, I kind of prefer the peace and quiet that come with not having a functioning intercom. I'm all too used to drunken NYU students buzzing me in the middle of the night when they mean to buzz a different apartment.

My landlord is never eager to address the issue. I didn't know that an intercom was a requirement for landlords. I've emailed my landlord twice this week alone after having missed packages, but there's been no action. Again, I don't often pursue it because I have such mixed feelings about the damned buzzer.

moe said...

Generally "forcing access" to a rented apaeprtment is limited to emergency situations, ie a fire, a broken pipe flooding the building, etc. Drilling a lock, removing a doorframe, prying open a door, are common means of "forcing access". Installing an intercom would not qualify as an emergency situation.
In a case like this it is just a silly academic argument, for goodness sake let the landlord in to install the intercom.
The sign in question was likely written up by the super or building manager, who is not going to be a lawyer after all. Or if he is a lawyer, well likely not a very good one.

Anonymous said...

Why be a dick about it, let the landlord fix it and stop this from escalating any further. I think the landlord is fed up with this tenant and threw out this "threat" to get the tenant to finally comply. How many visits should it take to get the intercom system fixed 23?

Anonymous said...

The law states that if an intercom was installed when a rent regulated tenant moved in then an intercom must continually be maintained.

Buildings that have never had an intercom are not required to get one.

Personally I feel no intercom is safer. I can get into a building with an intercom system anytime I want.

Fipper said...

Just look at Your lease/renter's agreement, there should be a clause that specifically address this. I know because it happened to me last year. My apartment got flooded from a broken pipe that was between my apartment and upstairs'. I happened to work late that night so I was not happy when my neighbor handed me a key to a Fischer Price lock on my door after a 12 hr day. After the time and money spent on a new lock and the installation, the first thing I did was looked at my agreement and it says right there as clear as day, that they can enter forcibly as long as the lessor/mgmt deems the repairs are necessary, especially if the repairs affects the obligations of the rental agreement. Additionally, they are not liable for any damages caused by such forced entry. This provision is pretty much across the board...

So, yeah, you better do what they say or have a locksmith on standby.

Anonymous said...

It is important to have a functioning intercom system. Some of my elderly neighbors are very nervous about just buzzing someone in without knowing who is downstairs, and they feel reassured when they can listen and hear and recognize the voice of the person ringing. When the system is totally down, it is really hard on them because they can't get up and down the stairs easily and a fall can do some serious damage when you are frail.

Unknown said...

Who wrote this law " and they are not liable for any damages caused by such forced entry"
Excuse me sir , own for benefit? Own for all.

As if

Anonymous said...

The poster NEVER said they weren't going to let anyone in, only querying whether they have a legal right to Break and Enter. You have a right to ask the landlord to come at a time that is as convenient for you as it is for him.

But I have to wonder WHAT THE HECK is wrong with all of the people who are responding with such extreme levels of compliance? Are you really cool with total strangers pawing through your apartment? I'm an older New Yorker, so this submissiveness is a little alien to me.

In my building, the landlord used to give the handymen commissions if they cold find reasons to get the tenants evicted. Everyone started hiring their own plumbers..