Smart Locks - locking tenants out instantly (tech vs legality?)

6 Replies

Ok, full disclosure here -- I am a part time Realtor, part time novice investor, and full time Tech nerd. For my day job, I develop test equipment and solve people's network and wifi problems. So, just wanted to put that out there. :)

This past week, I attended the International Security Conference and Expo (as an exhibitor). It happened that I was next to the Assa Abloy booth. For those of you who don't know, Assa Abloy is a high-end door lock manufacturer.

They were showcasing their new Smart Locks. The system allows you to enable and disable door access remotely. The tenant (or hotel guest) uses a key fob. Let's say the tenant doesn't pay their rent on time, you can restrict access to, for example, the Fitness room, main door, or their apartment. 

I am curious as to what tenant's rights' issues this might pose, and if it might be mitigated/circumvented if it is detailed in the lease. I realize this is likely state/county/town specific, but I was wondering if

  • anyone has used a similar system
  • you are aware of specific laws in your area that would be relevant

Leases CANNOT have clauses that violate state laws. 

Do not lock out tenants without a court order and the sheriff present. You will get in a lot of trouble for changing the locks before then even if the tenants aren't paying rent.

The smart locks are more appropriate for vacation rentals and hotels. Guests are only staying for a few days, do not have a lease, and the laws are very different.

@John Thedford , @Sam R. , Yeah, I pretty much expected the lock out on the main apartment would be a huge no-no. Any thoughts on locking them out of amenities (e.g., the fitness center, parking area, etc.)? I'm guessing that also wouldn't be legal.

I would think a remotely changeable pin pad might work for the vacation rental side. Hard to do with a key fob if you are not on-site.

You cannot deny any service provided for in the lease. Not only that, if you have provided services, etc as a general rule, even though not in the lease, you have implied an amendment to the lease and cannot arbitrarily revoke that. 

I WISH  !!!   in the not to old days we just took the front door off and that usually got them out.. and or we kept utls in our name and shut them off.  now those methods are frowned upon.,

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