Anne Peterson • April 24, 2010
Dear Anne: I just rented a new apartment and had the deadlocks on the doors changed before I moved in. That’s because a few years ago in a different apartment, the old tenant came back and just walked in. She said she was looking for something she left behind. When she left, so did my gold chain! The next week my landlord noticed the new locks and said I have to give him a copy of the new key. I’d feel better if I’m the only one with that key. I don’t want him walking in, too. Do I have to give him a copy?
— K. L.
Answer: The landlord has a right to a copy of all the locks for each unit he owns. In case of an emergency, such as a fire or gas leak, he needs to have immediate access to your apartment.
This does not give him the right to randomly enter your apartment. The New York State Doctrine of Quiet Enjoyment protects your right to privacy. A lease clause that waives a tenant’s right to privacy is not enforceable under the law.
While I understand your concern, you should not have added that new deadbolt lock without your landlord’s permission. Modifications to the apartment as a rule must have the landlord’s prior approval.
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