NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some Hell’s Kitchen residents sued their landlord over how they gain entry into the building.

The landlords told the court a new system installed was for security reasons, but the older tenants think they’re using the technology to try and push them out.

On Tuesday, a judge issued a settlement in the matter, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Wednesday.

Charlotte Pfahl is once again using a physical metal key to gain entry into her building, but it took a lawsuit to get it back.

“They refused to give us a key, so we had to use the Latch system, a keyless security surveillance system which we were not comfortable using,” Pfahl said.

Pfahl and several other residents, including Mary Beth McKenzie, who live at 517-525 West 45th St., sued their landlords after they say the Latch system installed in 2018 required them to use an app on their phones to open the door. They had to register and were assigned numbers they could also use to punch in for entry.

“My husband is 93. They expected him to use a phone app, which he’s just not able anymore,” McKenzie said.

The door with Latch gets you to the lobby with the elevator and mailboxes. They said if you didn’t use the app you had to use another entrance which still had a physical key, but that meant taking the stairs.

“They’re really steep stairs. I could bring garbage down in the elevator, but I couldn’t bring anything up,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said her husband fell on those stairs and hasn’t gone out much since. The tenants who have lived here for more than four decades said they had privacy concerns with using the app, but also think this was less about security and more about pushing them out.

CBS2’s Gainer tried to talk to one of the landlords to get his side, but was told, “I’m going to ask you to get off the property,” adding “no comment” when asked about the key fobs before slamming the door.

This is not the first group of New York City residents to try and fight this sort of thing.

Back in November, CBS2 told you about residents on Riverside Drive fighting electronic key fobs.

But not everyone minds the new technology. One woman, who didn’t want to appear on camera, said it’s great. Another who didn’t want to show her face told CBS2, “It works well. I don’t have to carry keys.”

But other tenants said they’re happy to carry them around again.

In March, the tenants were given keycards to use in place of the app. Latch, which was not named in the lawsuit, responded by saying it does not collect or track GPS data.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who represents parts of Hell’s Kitchen, has introduced legislation prohibiting landlords from requiring the use of smart access systems.

Latch issued a statement in response to the legal action.

While there were several inaccuracies contained in this lawsuit, we’re happy the parties were able to reach a private settlement to resolve their dispute about entry methods in this particular building. Latch does not collect or track GPS data, cannot monitor social media, does not share personal information for marketing purposes, and offers physical keycards—including at this very building.

At a private residence such as an apartment, the access history of individual residents at their home remains private to that specific resident alone and is never shared with anyone, including property management. For peace of mind, residents can view access histories of their guests, property managers, and trusted services who enter their home. In common areas, such as building entrances and amenity spaces, resident access histories are viewable only by the resident that created the access event and by property managers. Similarly, the access histories of building staff members at common areas are viewable only by the staff member and property managers. These access events are created to promote the safe and appropriate use of common spaces and to protect residents in the building. When guests and trusted service providers are provided access by a property manager or a resident, the access history of guests throughout a property are viewable by both the resident who invited them and property management to maintain the safety of the building.


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