Denying A Request For Keys

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A FEW months in the past Loraine Ballard changed the locks on the door to her Manhattan co-op. Shortly thereafter, the co-op’s board requested for a reproduction set of keys. Ms. Ballard balked on the request.

The board then demanded a $500 security deposit — for use in the occasion the door is damaged in an emergency.

They’re saying that if I do not surrender the keys or the cash, they are going to take me to court docket,” Ms. Ballard said. “What is this? Can they force you at hand over your keys? Can they punish you in case you do not?”

This is community living. They probably can. They likely will.

“When you don’t supply your key you are surely being very selfish,” stated Edward T. Braverman, a Manhattan attorney who makes a speciality of co-ops and condominiums. “You’re setting different human beings’s property at threat to protect your personal.”

Assuming for a moment that such behavior is unreasonable — and there are numerous who might argue to the opposite — most metropolis-dwellers would luckily undergo being called selfish if this is all it’d take to preserve uninvited strangers out in their apartments.

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But there may be something even greater compelling than altruism to inspire tenants to component with their keys: It’s the law.

“The country’s multiple-dwelling law requires that tenants should provide their landlords with reproduction keys to their apartments if the owner asks for them,” said Mr. Braverman. “And due to the fact a co-op shareholder is in reality only a tenant in a a couple of living owned by means of the the co-op, the shareholder has the equal obligation as every other tenant to provide a replica key if the landlord demands one.”

In fact, Mr. Braverman said, maximum proprietary leases comprise a provision that in particular calls for shareholders to provide the board or dealing with agent with keys to their residences. Moreover, he stated, many rentals comprise a provision that makes noncompliance a purpose for eviction.

“And the courts will implement it,” Mr. Braverman stated.

But could a board of directors actually take a shareholder to court docket over a key dispute?

“We’re scheduled for trial on Tuesday,” stated William J. Gribben, a Manhattan legal professional who represents a shareholder in an Upper East Side co-op who’s being evicted for not turning over the important thing to her rental. “The case is hot and heavy.”

Linda Stromberg, the shareholder in query, said that she had supplied the co-op’s board of directors a key to her condo, issue to certain conditions. Instead of just giving them a key, Ms. Stromberg desired to offer a key sealed internal a small plastic container. That way, she reasoned, she might be able to periodically investigate the container to decide if absolutely everyone had used the key.

Another circumstance of her provide, she said, become that the board agree only to use the key in the occasion of an emergency. The board rejected her thought. “It’s pure lunacy,” she said.

Indeed, few tenants or tenant-shareholders might object to a landlord’s or building control employee’s getting into an condominium in the event of an emergency. In fact, in a real emergency, it would be taken into consideration reasonable to break down the door if a key were not available.

But, as Ms. Stromberg and Ms. Ballard both talked about to their boards, if there is an emergency, and it’s honestly essential to get into the condo, then go ahead and destroy the door down. But if there isn’t an emergency, why no longer just make an appointment?

“Don’t I have a right to privateness?” asked Ms. Ballard. “Can they just stroll in willy-nilly?”

Larry Vitelli, director of operations for Kreisel Company, a Manhattan belongings control and actual estate organisation, said that during maximum cases the justification for coming into an condo in a tenant’s absence falls somewhere among willy-nilly and emergency.

“What takes place when a person smells gas coming from the condo, or hears water running — do you ruin the door down?” Mr. Vitelli requested. In simply such cases a key to the apartment is maximum necessary, he stated, and offers the most safety to the shareholder. “People get pretty dissatisfied while they arrive domestic and there may be no door on their condominium,” he said.

Most actual property control professionals say that the solution to key disputes is to increase a machine that gives residents with the maximum degree of confidence and safety.

“The worst scenario is where the first rate has a drawer full of keys with the condominium variety on every key,” Mr. Vitelli stated. “And you’d be surprised what number of buildings have systems now not lots better than that.”

One powerful and comparatively less expensive device that his company has used, he stated, includes preserving character keys in sealed envelopes marked with code numbers that correspond to distinct flats. The envelopes are then saved in a locked cupboard in the control office or the superintendent’s condominium.

By retaining the keys in sealed envelopes signed by the shareholders, Mr. Vitelli stated, citizens can check out the envelopes to insure that the important thing hasn’t been used. Another machine this is used in some buildings consists of small vaults — one for each condominium. Each vault has a mixture lock with the combination acknowledged only to the shareholder-tenant and to the building management.

An even more problematic, and extra expensive, solution is referred to as Key Trak, a automatic key-security gadget. Mark Queen, president of the Manhattan-primarily based corporation that sells the system, stated that it includes a laptop terminal that sits on top of a series of digital drawers.

Each drawer can comprise 240 keys or sets of keys. Before any key may be removed, he stated, a special access card — that’s most effective given to legal employees — ought to be used to release the key. In addition, by means of electronically studying a chip on a tag riveted to the important thing, the laptop keeps track of the way lengthy the important thing has been out of the drawer and when it turned into lower back.

The Key Trak machine, Mr. Queen stated, is usually leased to buildings for about $240 a month. David Kuperberg, president of Cooper Square Realty, a Manhattan property management business enterprise, said that even as he believed that it become in a shareholder’s quality hobby to present a reproduction key to building control, he did no longer endorse taking shareholders who refuse a request to court docket.

“It’s like slicing off your finger for a hangnail,” he said. “I would do whatever I can do to compromise in place of going to court. And if I do not get a compromise or a key, I write a letter to the shareholder and say that if there may be a trouble, we’re going to interrupt your door down and you’ll be answerable for the price to repair it.”

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