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This new development home in Long Island City is reached via smart entry system. (The Greene, #17F - Nest Seekers LLC) This new development home in Long Island City is reached via smart entry system. (The Greene, #17F - Nest Seekers LLC)
Living in a full-service building comes with many advantages. Most importantly, there is always someone available to accept and sign for packages and let in visitors who show up to fix a clogged sink, clean, or walk your dog while you're at work. But as more New York City buildings install smart-lock systems like Latch, you no longer have to live in a doorman building or pay doorman building prices to take advantage of these services. We examine the pros and cons, and offer a selection of listings in new development condominiums that have incorporated smart-lock systems.

What is a smart-lock building?

Smart-lock buildings are buildings that have installed a smart-lock system. While Latch is the most well-known system, a growing number of competitors offer similar products. Whatever the system, the service is similar. Controlled by a phone app, these systems enable building managers and tenants to regulate access to the building and often both the building and its individual units. As a result, Amazon delivery people can now more easily leave packages in the lobbies of non-service buildings, dog walkers can more easily retrieve pets for walks, and cleaners and maintenance people can more easily access units that require their services. In some cases, full-service buildings also use smart-lock systems but only to facilitate access to individual units rather than the entire building.

The pros of living in a smart-lock building

There are a number of advantages to living in a smart-lock building, including the following.

Track and retrieve packages: With more New Yorkers buying most or all of their goods online, the ability to track and retrieve packages is critical. Smart-lock systems make this possible, even if you don't live in a full-service building with 24/7 staff.
Avoid installing new locks and having new keys cut: In the past, building and unit breaches often forced residents to invest in the costly process of re-keying. With a smart lock, re-keying is now simple and affordable. All you need to do is change our code rather than your entire lock system.
Control access from any location: A key advantage of living in a smart-lock building is that you can control access from any location in the world. This means that if you're traveling overseas and your dog walker suddenly calls in sick, you can easily give access to a backup dog walker without the time-consuming process of arranging for a new walker to pick up a set of your keys.
Enjoy enhanced security, including video surveillance: While not everyone may want to place their home under video surveillance, most smart-lock systems can be easily integrated with other home security devices, including security cameras, to ensure that owners can see what is happening in their units when they aren't at home.
Control other devices and appliances: Most smart lock systems can also be integrated with other devices, including most smart-home devices, including cooling, heating, and lighting systems.
Show your property to more prospective buyers: Finally, if you're putting your home on the market, a smart-lock system is also highly advantageous. In the past, real estate agents showing homes in walk-ups have had to rely on lock boxes. With a smart-lock system, you can give your agent or broker access to your unit, making it easier for them to show your unit to prospective buyers whenever they can.

The cons of living in a smart-lock building

While there are many advantages to living in a smart-lock building, there are a few disadvantages about which both owners and renters should be aware. First, as a recent Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) article cautions, the data these locks generate “can create a revealing data trail that raises concerns about law enforcement power, data privacy, and information security." A specific concern raised by the EFF is that smart-lock companies often store data longer than required and are not always fully transparent about how long they keep data or with whom they share their data.

The EFF, as well as several tenant activist organizations, have also expressed concerns that smart lock systems may be used to harass tenants. In mid-2019, one group of New York City tenants even successfully argued for the right to a physical key after their landlord installed Latch.
Cybersecurity is another concern raised by smart-lock systems. Hacks on smart-lock systems have yet to make any significant headlines; but like all electronic systems, including all networked home devices, they are vulnerable to glitches and cyber-security breaches. What is particularly troubling is that unlike past home invasions, which are usually obvious the moment you walk in the door, if someone breaches your smart-lock system, it can take months and even years to realize the breach since there will be no evidence of a broken lock or window. However, the real risk with a smart-lock system isn't that someone will physically break into your home to steal physical goods but that someone will break into the system itself to steal valuable data.

Petra, #7A (Modern Spaces)

The Marina Astoria, #4G (Nest Seekers LLC)

EDEN Condominium, #3F (Nest Seekers LLC)

11 Hoyt, #18D (Corcoran Group)


Greene, #17F (Nest Seekers LLC)

137 Carlton Avenue, #4 (Serhant LLC)

85 Douglass Street, #B (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

98 Front Street, #PH2B (Triumph Property Group Ltd)

Forena, #PHB (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)
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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.