Residents of Hells Kitchen in New York City are suing landlords over the introduction of a new security system which requires a smartphone app to enter their apartment building.
The New York Post reports that residents of a Hells Kitchen, New York City apartment complex are suing their landlord for introducing a new digital lock system which requires the use of a smartphone app to enter the building. One resident, Mary Beth McKenzie, a 72-year-old artist who has lived in the West 45th St. building for almost five decades is just one of the individuals facing issues.
“It’s ridiculous that everyone is spending all this money to go to court just to get a key,” said McKenzie. “For 45 years I’ve had a key. And now, we can’t get keys.” Keys to the building have been replaced with an electronic security system called Latch which requires a smartphone app to access the building. McKenzie stated that her 93-year-old husband has been practically unable to leave the building since the installation of the new system as he doesn’t use a cellphone.
Residents are also worried about the fact that Latch can notify the owner of the building about their tenants’ location via GPS and even allow them to see aspects of their tenants’ social media. Charlotte Pfahl, one of the five plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the building owner in Manhattan civil court stated: “Once I come into the building using Latch, the landlord is immediately notified.”
McKenzie further added “It’s a form of harassment… What happens if your phone dies? I don’t want to be stuck on the street and I don’t want to be surveilled.” The owners of the building, a limited liability company operated by Offir Naim and Shai Bernstein, stated that the Latch system was installed to provide tenants with greater security following a burglary in August 2018. “Tenants have the option to disable that function at any time,” Naim said in court filings.
Ron Sharpe, one of the buildings tenants had a very simple stance on the issue, “We just want a key,” he said. “It’s just easier to handle.”