We see this all the time in property management; a resident refusing to give a copy of their apartment key to their landlord or to the building staff in the case of an emergency. In New York, it’s part of the law that the tenant should give a copy of their key to the landlord and in Proprietary Leases for Cooperatives, it notes that the Lessee (shareholder) shall give a copy of their key to the Lessor (Coop Board or representative).

If a tenant is refusing to give a copy of their key it is not only an issue of delaying time to get into the apartment in an emergency, but it can also lead to a dangerous situation should there be a life-threatening emergency. There are a few steps to take if you are the owner or on the Board and a resident won’t leave a copy of their keys.

The first thing that we do is send out a general memo noting that all residents have until a specified date to turn in their keys, along with a copy of the verse noted in either the local law or the building documents. Should they refuse to give a copy of the key, we note that all residents that fail to provide a copy of their will be subject to be charged any and all fees, expenses, penalties or damages incurred by a result of having a key at the disposal of a property.

After this notice, if the refusal continues we will ask all residents to sign an acknowledgement form noting that they understand all of the issues that may arise from not having given a copy of their key and that they elect not to give a copy of the key and acknowledging the potential for liability. We will then file away the signed document in the case that the issue should come up again in the future.

This goes without saying that no resident apartments are entered into without a specific emergency situation arising. We would give all routine maintenance visits a period of notice of at least 24 hours so that the resident can prepare for their apartment to be accessible to make the repair that is needed.

By utilizing the form letters and then the acknowledgement form for those refusing to provide their keys, the Board or building owner can make those tenants accountable for extraordinary damages or liabilities.