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Tenants win right to physical keys over smart locks from landlords (cnet.com)
491 points by walterbell 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 354 comments

From Philip K. Dick's "Ubik" (1969):

The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.” He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”

“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”

In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.

“You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.

From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.

“I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”

Now imagine that the door can afford 17 corporate lawyers or that tampering with the door is considered a public safety issue necessitating police involvement.

I should put this kind of tech on my office door. If I want to leave, I have to feed it a dollar. An amazing savings plan or just motivation to keep working instead of going to veg out on the couch.

Or if someone wants to interrupt you, 25 cents for admission.

Finely placed, what a book! This passage made me laugh out loud.

Absurd, wasn't it, even ten years ago?

This might be one of the best HN comments I have ever seen. Thank you!

And there's the future of Ethereum.

Autonomous corporations indeed.

wow! Thanks !

The comments seem to be missing the two key aspects: accessibility and surveillance.

The smart lock requires you to have a charged, working smartphone that you can use in order to get into your own apartment. One of the claimants is 93 and lacks the manual dexterity to do that.

On top of that, smart locks can report when you enter and exit your home to the landlord; and, if under the landlord control, can provide other people with a pseudo-legitimate access to it. I don't know what the tenancy law is in NY, but in the UK this is supposed to require the permission of the tenant except in an emergency.

(Does anyone have the search expertise to find the actual case from NY public records?)

> charged, working smartphone

Not just that, you also have to install a proprietary piece of software onto the phone from a third party and accept their TOS.

> can provide other people with a pseudo-legitimate access to it

I think in the news story the smart locks were only installed on the front door not on the doors to the homes. If the landlord installed them on the doors for the homes as well, that would be very troubling indeed.

>and accept their TOS...

Money quote.

People aren't thinking ahead here about what this opens you up to with respect to privacy loss. Think about the permissions on your phone such an app could ask for in the future. Now consider that if you don't grant them, you could potentially not get into your apartment.

Smart locks are a cancer. We should cut them out early.

> People aren't thinking ahead here about what this opens you up to with respect to privacy loss. Think about the permissions on your phone such an app could ask for in the future. Now consider that if you don't grant them, you could potentially not get into your apartment.

Forget the future: the TOS currently permit the collection of personal information for marketing, to which the company blandly responded, "we don't do that".

Yeah, I and bet that TOS includes a mandatory binding arbitration and class-action waiver. When the lock fails who is going to be held responsible?

Def not the landlord or lock company.

> Smart locks are a cancer. We should cut them out early.

Baby with bathwater. Smart locks are useful. Bad implementations are bad. You can have one with both a normal key lock and a card which uses a standard RFID tag rather than a specific app. They're both convenient and failsafe.

> charged, working smartphone

> Not just that, you also have to install a proprietary piece of software onto the phone from a third party and accept their TOS.

Also, the lock has to be charged at all times... is that the landlord's responsibility?

Fail open, uhhhh

A burglar's dream.

Fail open and get your stuff jacked? Or fail closed and have to ingress/egress via the window (or worse)?

I can imagine smart locks with no secondary opening mechanism being installed in my old dormitories at school. People already locked each other in with the penny jamming trick. Imagine if you could do that either by disrupting the power supply or setting up a cell/wifi jammer?

Which then pings Facebook/Google/some other third party about your activity.

>The smart lock requires you to have a charged, working smartphone that you can use in order to get into your own apartment.

When you say “The smart lock,” are you referring to the one in this story? The article mentions that this smart lock, which led to a common area, had a keypad:

“Lisa Gallaudet, the landlords' attorney, said the smart lock was on a single door and that tenants were able to enter a numeric code to get in and didn't need an app. They'd also been offered codes they could enter without a phone.”

So a few things here.

(1) This system did not provide access to a tenant’s apartment directly, only a common area, probably a hallway or entry to the apartment area (article mentions tenant was trapped without it)

(2) The claim that a 93 year old lacked the dexterity to operate the smart lock is spurious. A physical key requires more dexterity than pushing numbers on a keypad.

Overall, this does not seem like a resounding victory for tenants everywhere. More like, a technical win that would support future action by tenants if they find themselves faced with a mandatory-smart-lock-on-their-actual-door situation, which this is not.

> (2) The claim that a 93 year old lacked the dexterity to operate the smart lock is spurious. A physical key requires more dexterity than pushing numbers on a keypad.

In this case absolutely not. I've used the lock in question. It does not have physical keys, and the keypad is non-responsive, and round in shape (think rotary phone). Every person I know who has used the keypad has had trouble both on their first and succeeding attempts. I am pretty good with it, but it requires typing very slowly and using my thumb in order to ensure the key press is accepted.

I'm also thinking a 93 year old with bad eyes. My grandmother in her late 80's could thread a sewing needle by feel.

It’s worth noting that many smart locks nowadays have flat capacitive-based keypads, which even I as an able-bodied adult have issues pressing accurately.

I used to live in a place with a main door that was a smart lock and I loved it, now I have to carry keys again which is super annoying.

But one time the battery died while the landlord was out of town, which meant I couldn’t get in my building for hours until his friend was able to find and bring over the physical key backup.

But one time the battery died while the landlord was out of town, which meant I couldn’t get in my building for hours until his friend was able to find and bring over the physical key backup.

Why not get your phone charged somewhere? Neighbors, a shop, ... surely someone could lend you an outlet + charger for 30 mins?

I believe OP implied that the battery in the smart lock itself died.

Sorry for the confusion, this was a smartlock that used a keypad. No phone integration. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen a smartlock in person that uses a smartphone to unlock, although I've heard they exist.

Anyway the unit in question took 4 AA batteries which needed to be replaced every 6 months or so. The batteries of the lock itself died earlier than expected. Apparently the wifi connection to the front building door was bad and that caused the battery life to drain significantly faster than advertised.

Do you know any 93 year olds?

You might want to account for the lifestyle impact of switching from physical keys to stuff you have to memorize.

Arthritic fingers don't aim well. Keys are somewhat self-centering and easier to operate without good accuracy.

Memory also degrades with age. Many people in their 80's and 90's start experiencing memory loss. My 85 year old father sometimes forgets the route to drive to the shopping center he has been driving to for decades. Relying on elderly people to remember a keycode or operate a smartphone is not a good strategy.

I suspect there is a certain amount of muscle memory involved in using keys. I don't even think "which key do I need" when locking/unlocking my doors, my hands automatically select the correct key.

A physical key may require more dexterity for you, but maybe not for the claimant.

> A physical key requires more dexterity than pushing numbers on a keypad.

There are adapters and grips designed for people with arthritis.

What about security?

A hidden camera watching someone entering a code is not as secure as placing a key in a hole.

A hidden camera can get the bitting of many keys quite easily.

But now you have to be an expert in two or three things or have multiple people help you break in. The come back and test your faked key is also going to be more suspicious than a one shot you know the code and walk in.

It does look like a privacy win to me. Isn't it?

The smart lock could be operated without identification, using a code. It’s not clear to me that this code was unique per user.

This does not look like a privacy win to me. It looks like a good precedent that will aid in a privacy court battle in the future.

> The smart lock could be operated without identification, using a code. It’s not clear to me that this code was unique per user.

"It's not clear to me that this is true" is different from "this is false".

(Also note that the only evidence in the article even for the existence of the code, let alone the question of whether or not it identifies the tenant, is an attorney's claim; in the article, it is not denied, but nor does anyone else confirm it. For example, the attorney's claim is perfectly consistent with the possibility that there is a code, but that the landlord did not inform tenants of it, or would not provide it to them.)

> This does not look like a privacy win to me. It looks like a good precedent that will aid in a privacy court battle in the future.

But the article says:

> It won't set a legal precedent because it's a settlement, but it represents a win for tenants who had issues with smart locks and landlords installing them against their will.

From the sounds of the lock being referenced here, it was not what we usually refer to as a "Smart" lock. It was a simple code keypad. This whole discussion is based on a misnomer applied by a reporter who is neither a tech expert nor a locksmith.

I stayed in an AirBnB recently and the owner installed a smart lock while I was there. Assigning a unique code for each user is the entire point; you can invalidate the code once their lease is up, rather than worrying about the keys getting returned or copied.

I don't have a smartphone and I doubt I'll ever choose to get one.

I have a dumb phone and mainly leave that at home. Anybody who wants me can leave a message and wait for a callback. Seems to work well for past 20 years.

I don't have a fancy one for the very reasons of tracking, loss of privacy/data collection and above all for this type of use, and what the parent didn't mention, I do not trust tech even slightly, being a tech guy myself.

If you rely on power and intelligence, other than manpower and brainpower, to unlock a door, then you're a bloody fool.

(NB cost of a spare key ~£5).

  (NB cost of a spare key ~£5).
Depends on the key, really. Some keys herearound can be very expensive to replace and require written authorization by the landlord.

With most keys you can't waltz into Mister Minit and have them pull a copy.

> require written authorization by the landlord

How are they going to even know?

> ...you can't waltz into...

I've never come across a key that couldn't be duplicated with a quick £5 waltz. IME only I suppose.

For example : [1] & [2]

Only the entity ordring the locks is authorized to have additional keys made. And it's pretty heavily enforced by the manufacturers and distibuters.

Copies are also more than 5 quid.

[1] https://www.dormakaba.com/hr-hr/proizvodi/proizvodi/mechanic...

[2] https://www.assaabloy.ch/en/local/switzerland/landingpage/as...

Edited to add : While the web pages talk pretty much about smart locks, both manufacturers offer purely mechanical locks (or hybrids), which cannot be copied easily.

Maybe it's that I've never rented a nice enough place, but all my past landlords have chosen the £10-a-lock non-patent-protected locks over the £100-a-lock high security locks.

My landlord in the US uses cheap locks, he said he throws them away after each lease and puts in new ones. It was lucky for me one day when I forgot my keys, but had my lockpicking kit in my backpack. It took about 5 minutes to rake both the knob and deadbolt and get in.

where i live, it's customary to either re-key your door after you rent a new place or just exchange the whole lock.

as long as you give back two copies of the key by the end of the lease, landlords usually don't care.

Those are very high end ones I'd expect to see on commercial installations or homes of the ultra rich. Most landlords in my part of the US use the cheap regular off-the-shelf locks, where you can copy the key for a couple of dollars at Home Depot and throw the lock out once the tenant departs.

>How are they going to even know?

Because it's a non-standard key with print on it: "Property of X, not to be copied without permission" and because it's a non-standard key, to even get the blanks requires knowing whom to ask for permission to make copies.

Think something like US Post Office box keys, or bank safe deposit keys.

"Property of X, not to be copied without permission"

Not even that. The keys I was referring to have serial numbers and the blanks are strictly controlled.

Only the owner of said serial numbers (usually represented by a card) can order copies directly from the manufacturer or their designated agents.

Normal key copy shops wouldn't even have the blanks to furnish copies.

I don't think that it's totally impossible to copy such keys and it will be probably even be harder to prevent copys in the future (think 3d printing). But you can't have them copied by any old shoe maker with a key copy side business.

Back in my university days they would only give us one key to a room that was designated for our club. They had the special blanks with the second set of teeth on the inside.

I just found "normal" blanks with the same cross section, whipped up the tooth profile and a holding fixture in some pirated CAD program and took a thumb drive and the blanks down to the machine shop during lab hours.

Anyone who knows how to use a machine shop can duplicate any key. For most keys there are specific machines that don't require skill to operate that duplicate it. The skill required to duplicate the other keys, combined with the "do not duplicate" stamp on the other keys means that such keys are rarely duplicated.

In the vast majority of the US, there is no law against businesses duplicating keys stamped with "do not duplicate" which means it's usually not too hard to find a shop that will do so.

That depends. You are legally correct. Most shops when seeing a do not duplicate key will do some checking to see if you should be allowed to duplicate the key (but there is no standard here), compared to any other key which they will duplicate no questions asked.

Also some "secure" keys don't have any blanks. Most shops don't have the ability to duplicate them. You can still get them copied, but you need a skilled machinist at considerably more cost.

> I don't think that it's totally impossible to copy such keys and it will be probably even be harder to prevent copys in the future (think 3d printing). But you can't have them copied by any old shoe maker with a key copy side business.

I remember a story recently about a secure luggage key. And every luggage lock was supposed to use it, but you weren't supposed to be able to get copies. But then a newspaper article printed a full-page image of the key, so... yeah, it got duplicated on a 3D printer that day: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2015/09/11/tsa-master-lugga...

My memory says that in NY, the landlord cannot enter or authorize someone else to enter without 24 hours notice to the tenant.

This is not widely known, and virtually every rental contract says otherwise. But those terms are unenforceable.

For the record, I learned this from a lawyer living in New York as an example of why many landlords choose not to rent to lawyers.

It turns out that while discriminating on the basis of race and religion is illegal, it is perfectly legal to discriminate on the basis of profession. As a result it can be challenging for lawyers to find a place to live.

That's the case in nearly every state. Leases generally say "reasonable notice", which lets landlords imply that there is no 24 hour requirement while simultaneously keeping the term technically "enforceable".

In the UK good landlords want to rent to lawyers. Failure to pay rent would eventually compromise a lawyer's professional body membership.

>good landlords


I see no contradiction between your logic and "it's hard for a lawyer to rent in NYC" :)

I don't know what the tenancy law is in NY, but in the UK this is supposed to require the permission of the tenant except in an emergency.

I can't speak for America or NY, but Switzerland has exactly the same tenancy law.

The landlord must announce a visit to the appartment like 48 hours in advance an he cannot abuse the privilege. Essentially you "own" the rented appartment during your tennancy.

Emergencies (i.e. a burts pipe) is different, of course.

Like most things in America, tenant protection laws vary by state/municipality... in NY the laws are generally strong in favor of tenants, landlords must provide at least 24 hours notice, written, for all non-emergency work and they can only enter during "reasonable" hours, typically interpreted as 9-5 on weekdays. A landlord who fails to honor the rules will likely end up in housing court, which is a very expensive process for them. In NY, all residential property leases use a standard form lease provided by the state, and the landlord cannot add riders that void or limit the tenant protections in the lease. There is no concept of a tenant "owning" the property for the duration of the lease, but the lease does provide a warrant of habitability which includes a right to privacy.

Even in NY though, landlords are allowed to request a key to enter the apartment non-destructively for emergencies or legally notified work. Its common practice here to add an additional interior deadbolt to your apartment front door, so the landlord (or building supervisor) will have one copy of the key for the main lock which any prior tenant could have also had, and you'll provide them a spare key for the interior addon deadbolt you added yourself. The standard lease also explicitly allows using a door chain/slider to prevent even keyed entry wile you are present in the home.

Many other states have no such requirement at all, or allow landlords to place much more limiting language they want into lease riders.

NY also requires an announcement/request 24hrs (maybe 48hrs?) in advance, and landlords are permitted to enter in case of an emergency.

Read up after having a pretty scarring experience about two years ago. I like to take long showers to relax. One day I took a longer than usual shower and just so happened to be rubbing one out. Landlord busted into the bathroom mid rub out saying the water was running too long. I flipped a shit, read up on the laws afterward (previously skimmed them over and had a sense it was/is illegal), wrote a long letter hinting at taking legal action/very real what if scenarios (gf showering,etc). Rent hasn't increased since, beyond nice whenever we see each other, has even invited me to watch the soccer game with him a couple times after dropping off rent...

Regardless, what he did was fucked/illegal, and I was beyond embarrassed, though now I laugh about it when thinking back or a buddy brings it up

>Essentially you "own" the rented appartment.

Possession vs Ownership. In some countries, there law makes a difference and in some like Switzerland and Germany, for example, the possession of an object (or apartment) gives you a number of rights that the landlord can't annihilate by adding more words to a contract.

While in germany the landlord is the owner of the appartment, they have no right to enter it as they want, use it as they want or do anything but emergency work without the permission of whoever pays rent.

On the other hand, since the renter is not in ownership but mere possession of the apartment, they can´t do as they want either; they can't take down a wall even if it's cleared by an engineer to be safe, the landlord has to approve any permanent changes to their ownership unless the contract gives the renter some free reign.

It's pretty much the same in Switzerland.

Structural changes either need the landlord's approval or have to be reverted to how it was before you moved in.

This can obviously be rather expensive if you tore down a wall.

Exactly. A "bail" is you compensating the landlord for a resource they lend you. You can do (almost) anything you want in your rented house.. at the only condition that you give it back as it was before (minus normal deterioration).

If there's an emergency, the fire services will kick the door.

>A "bail" is you compensating the landlord for a resource they lend you.

Deposit? Haven't heard that name before.

In French that word has a different meaning, it specifically means a rental contract and is pronounced like "bye", I'm not sure it has anything to do with "bail" in English.

So could be that parent is French.

Bail is a security deposit. In English bail is generally used to mean a deposit against a promise to appear in criminal court, but it's the same concept.

> The smart lock requires you to have a charged, working smartphone that you can use in order to get into your own apartment.

The landlord claimed (about half way down the article) that there was some sort of code that could be entered to open the door with no phone. Is that not the case?

Yeah that's a very material piece of the puzzle that seems intentionally buried:

> Lisa Gallaudet, the landlords' attorney, said the smart lock was on a single door and that tenants were able to enter a numeric code to get in and didn't need an app. They'd also been offered codes they could enter without a phone.

Whether that's an alternative depends on the implementation. If it's a code unique to the tenant that goes through the same backend, then the same privacy argument applies. If it's a static code for any tenant, their whole argument falls apart. Either way, if true, bringing up the whole part about the elderly tenant not being able to operate a smartphone is just dishonest.

A tenant who isn't able to operate a smartphone may also be unable to remember and/or physically enter a numeric code.

This is curious. The person is able to operate a key, but is unable to enter a physical code on a keypad? As for remembering the code, keeping a piece of paper with the code is no different from keeping a key.

To clarify my position, I am not in favor of the app for privacy reasons, and prefer the physical lock and key. But it isn't clear to me how far the dexterity argument goes.

> "This is curious. The person is able to operate a key, but is unable to enter a physical code on a keypad?"

That doesn't seem too implausible to me. If you thrust your key at the lock but miss... you scratch the lock maybe. Not a big deal, you can retry. But if you thrust your finger at the keypad, you might miss and hit the wrong key. Okay, so try again right? Just the same as the physical lock.

Except the key only requires you to successfully align the key and the lock once. The keypad requires you to successfully align your finger and the correct key numerous times in a row. If you mess up the second or third key press, you have to start over from the beginning.

So yes, depending on the nature of the impairment, a physical key might very well be easier to use than a keypad.

Having helped my 93 year old parent with comparable issues on a number of occasions, I can vouch for the validity of this.

Well, a piece of paper is easier to lose than a key on a keychain. I would suggest a metal key-chainable object that has the code written on it with relief bump-outs. On the flip side the same thing with brail.

Even then, it's not equivalent: a hidden wireless camera installed by a thief can easily see the code on the paper or key thing, or even typed into the pad.

In the same way that it seems like someone who could use a key could also use a keypad, it seems that someone who could use a keypad could also use a smartphone. At least one of these two logical steps is broken.

I don't think so. Someone who can use a keypad may have the manual dexterity to use a smartphone, but not necessarily be comfortable using a smartphone for this purpose. I have known people who are comfortable with pressing buttons on an old flip phone, but simply do not get how to use a smartphone. Grasping technology is about more than just manual dexterity.

The claim is that his inability to use a smartphone is physical. I'm taking that at face value because I don't have any other details.

Remembering can be replaced with a piece of paper with the code written on it. That's not any more onerous than being required to carry a key around.

And a key generally requires more dexterity to operate than a keypad. I think vision issues might be a valid complaint, since you can usually operate a key by feel; harder to do that with a keypad, especially in the dark.

I don't think we know the precise nature of this guy's limitations, so it's hard to say why he has the dexterity to use a key but not a smartphone. A keypad seems to me to be more similar to using a smartphone than using a key.

That is the case - they offer a code you can punch it as well as a key card you can keep in your wallet (according to their website).

In this case the smart lock was just on the front door of the building and people could punch in a code in a keypad as an alternative.

Individual apartments still required a physical key to access.

This is not much different than my old apartment building that required a keyfob to enter the front door, but individual keys for the units.

From the article:

Lisa Gallaudet, the landlords' attorney, said the smart lock was on a single door and that tenants were able to enter a numeric code to get in and didn't need an app. They'd also been offered codes they could enter without a phone

> The smart lock requires you to have a charged, working smartphone ....One of the claimants is 93 and lacks the manual dexterity to do that.

Forget manual dexterity, I'm 42 and I can't reliably assume my cellphone is charged, PARTICULARLY if I'm just getting home (the time it is most likely to be dead.

Comments below point out there is a bypass code, so my comment isn't so much about the in/justice as it is my inability to keep a charge.

> can provide other people with a pseudo-legitimate access to it

I agree with the rest of your points, but I'm not sure that this is meaningfully different than them loaning out a copy of your key.

When I was last renting (in the UK) I changed my locks the day I moved in, then swapped them back to the original cylinders when I left.

I thought it was pretty good practice not to have a door with an unknown number of previous tennants, cleaners, letting agents, landlords etc with access.

FYI for Americans, it is generally illegal to change your locks and not provide the owner (or agent aka landlord) with a copy.

It's their property, not yours, and depending on state/lease they have the right to have the locks drilled/replaced at YOUR expense because you are not allowed to lock an owner out of their property.

There are only a few US states which have laws permitting tenants from changing locks and not notifying the owner or giving them a copy (CA, NJ are two). Other states permit tenant to change locks (or don't have explicit rules) but require the tenant to give a copy to the owner (like say NY).

The reason why this is tricky is because in the case of an emergency if the owner of the property needs to make emergency repairs, but cannot because you have locked them out, depending on the law and the lease in question, you could be liable for all of the damage to the property since you barred the owner from making repairs. That could be a 5 or 6 digit lawsuit pretty quickly depending on the property, the emergency and if it's multi or single family. (Think burst pipe in a multi-family flooding other tenants.... very expensive very fast)

I live in CA, and my lease has a clause specifically prohibiting changing/adding locks to the doors. I wonder if the CA law invalidates this clause. It's not a problem for this lease because my landlord is very hands-off - I've never even met them, only communicated via email. But I'll definitely be paying attention to clauses like this in the future, especially if there's a "smart" lock on the unit.

Most leases are just canned boiler plate filled with completely unenforceable clauses.

A lease prohibiting changing the locks would give the landlords insurance agent palpitations.

In Iceland, if the owner of a rented apartment would request key access to his tenants apartment, well… That would be considered "batshit crazy". But it probably comes down to cultural differences, America is very authoritarian.

I think you might be conflating our current executive for the rest of America, which is 50 independent states operating together with a Federal government. Each state has its own way of doing things, and they're all different.

Recent Federal pushes into authoritarian areas, while an indicator that things are moving in that direction, do not make the country as a whole "Authoritarian", let alone VERY authoritarian.

We do tend to lean towards protection for owners of property, rather than renters of property (citation needed? In many states there are STRONG protections for non-owners even those squatting on land that is not theirs) That also severely limits the rights of the government to access the property without cause. That seems... decidedly _not_ authoritarian? But certainly skewed towards ownership.

America is not authoritarian so much as "pro-ownership"

The idea that the owner of a building couldn't perform maintenance as necessary is shocking!

The thought that someone could enter the place that holds everything I own is more shocking to me. If my landlord wants to enter my flat, he can ask me and I'll let them in - I can't make sure that my landlord doesn't enter my flat.

No but tbf you can point a camera at your door and Sue his ass off if he comes in without justification or permission.

Also an extremely American concept

I disagree with you. It is absolutely authoritarianism at the root of these issues. (As an American who has been observing this for some time.)

A few hours ago I was summarizing this article to someone in person and concluded with "but this country is very authoritarian", the implication being that the letter and spirit of tennant laws are not widely known, and the more authoritarian cultural norms, biased towards landlords, end up as the de facto rules.

"Pro-landlord" is not "pro-ownership", it's the opposite.

Oh sweetie, oh no...

The landlord IS the owner.

They are inseparable. You cannot be pro-landlord and anti-owner, or pro-owner and anti-landlord.

"I'm pro-developers but against programmers!"

"I'm anti-programming, but pro-coding!"

Come on now.

Oh, come on. Most houseowners aren't landlords (people who own multiple properties and make money by renting it to others).

It is in the interests of landlords that as few people owned property as possible. This being pro-landlord is being anti-ownership, numbers-wise.

I'm pro-owernship of property, I'm anti-getting-rich-off-mere-ownership (that is, quite literally, rent seeking).

Someone who only wants the police to have easy access to guns is anti-gun ownership.

Someone who only wants landlords to own property is anti-property-ownership.

And being pro-landlord is exactly that.

TL;DR: all landlords are owners, most owners aren't landlords. And the rent is too damn high.

Where I live (Seattle), a landlord can enter your apartment immediately if there's an emergency (ie something like it's an apartment and the downstairs neighbor reports water leaking from the ceiling), or with two days (48 hours) notice. My current apartment does the second one twice a year for fire alarm testing and, well, that's been it.

One day's written notice if it's to show the unit to a potential tenant.

Feudal and Authoritarian eh? Certainly not being dramatic over differing interpretations of property rights.

A:the poster didn't mention feudalism

B: >differing interpretations of property rights The American interpretation is authoritarian. Just because it has a negative connotation doesn't make it untrue. The landlords are renting out a dwelling for someone, and because they are the authority of that land they get to enforce rules on who has access to it. That is authoritarian

A: Yes they did. They edited the post to remove it after my post.

> But it probably comes down to cultural differences, America is very authoritarian.

That has nothing to do with the property owner but "America" based on my read, but I do appreciate this interpretation of the OP. If that's their meaning, I could see why the word comes up.

You know, I think my interpretation was wrong after re-reading, but I dont think I would disagree still. America has a very strong cultural thread of authoritarianism. You see it in places like a cops word being given greater weight in court than a citizens, or how people treat rights as something the government has to give you rather than the government taking rights from you

Policepeople are citizens.

The law as practiced by the state seems to indicate that they are not the same

What happens if there is a gas or water leak and the landlord needs to let repairmen into your apartment in an emergency?

Do they just wait around until you show up with the key? Smash some windows or kick down the door?

Iceland is small enough in population that the communities are small and everyone knows each other or has a mutual friend.

If you need to get in a house you own in an emergency that could cost 100's of thousands of dollars why wouldn't you just break a window, or call a locksmith? I don't think the tenant would be responsible for these damages unless the incident was caused by their negligence.

I'm not a lawyer but in many states these liability claims go through a system which determines the % of liability for each party.

A tenant illegally locking their landlord out and causing delay of several hours for a time-sensitive emergency would almost assuredly get a lot more % liability blame than a tenant who properly gave their landlord a copy of the key and who was able to give access to the plumber immediately.

Hopefully they have enough renters insurance to cover the claim and their insurance company will handle the court side of things when other tenants sue!

>A tenant illegally locking their landlord out...

That's not the question at hand at all though. The question is what kind of liability you incur by legally locking your landlord out.

IANAL, but I'd guess that if you change the locks in a state where it's not legal to do so you're totally hosed in terms of liability. I have no idea how liable and to what degree renter's insurance would cover you if you change the locks in a state that guarantees your right to do so.

I don't think there's any state that allows you to change the locks and not give the landlord access.

I've rented an over-the-garage studio in the past, and the landlord came in one time without notice when I was away because the supply line to the toilet burst and there was water dripping from the garage ceiling. That's the sort of emergency we're talking about here, where a landlord needs immediate access, and any delay will cause additional structural damage.


Can you elaborate on what you’re talking about?

It's not legal for landlords to enter rented homes as they please, even in America.

This is false. It's up to state law but generally speaking landlords can enter the premises without warning in case of an emergency, and can otherwise enter the premises for nearly any reason (inspection, routine maintenance, showing prospective clients, etc) with a 24 hour notice. Some states may increase that 24 hour notice to 48 hours, but yes a property owner can enter their property.

This is one of those cases where owners have rights too, and renters who want more rights should consider owning.

It's a common carve out in most states to allow immediate access for "emergency access", which is why everyone in the thread is discussing exactly that.

You sir would be incorrect.

It's also not legal for landlords to enter other people's homes at will simply because they own it.

With a 24 hour notice (or 48), yes it is legal. They can post notice and come by merely to inspect the state of the property.

This is not true in California. I had a landlord who wanted to enter all apartments to inspect for evidence of pets (someone had seen a cat inside the building) and I told them exactly where they could shove it.

(Paraphrased from CA Civ Code 1954)

A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases:

- In case of emergency.

- To make necessary or agreed repairs, exhibit the property, or perform move in/out inspections.

- When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.

- Pursuant to court order.

If I were your landlord and you refused, I would sue for violating a no-pets clause in the lease to get a court order to allow the inspection. Or perhaps just initiate eviction proceedings for the lease violation.

It is what it is.

I did this as well after having a couple of snooping landlords.

Also it's empowering. One rental I had, prior to the tenancy deposit protection scheme I had a serial con artist landlord. At the end of the tenancy, he billed my entire £600 deposit return to three companies he owned. One for gardening, one for cleaning and one for maintenance. This made it difficult for a claim to be placed upon him. This was without entering the property, because I had changed the locks. The property was left immaculate. I took photos to cover my arse. Edit: to note I completely ripped out the overgrown garden in that time and cleaned it up to the point it was workable and decorated half the place so I added value to his property. He evicted us because he could rent it out for more money.

Retribution was simple. He didn't have a valid address on the tenancy contract. When he asked where to return the keys to, he sent me an SMS to just put them through the letter box. So I did. I put the keys inside a zip lock bag and used an 8 foot bamboo stick to poke them through the letterbox half way down the hall, double locked the security door from the outside and chucked the keys for the actual barrels down the drain in the street. My wife decided to add insult to this injury by spreading marmite all around the inside of the letter box.

The next morning I woke up to about 20 missed calls and 3 voice mails calling me all sorts of names and threatening to kill me and was going to sue me for new locks and a new shirt.

I went and bought another pay as you go SIM and never heard a thing.

Edit: just looked the guy up. He's still going. If you rent in Nottingham, keep an eye out for a cunt who turns up on a motorbike. Ask for a passport or driving license for ID from direct rent landlords, not just business correspondence.

"My wife decided to add insult to this injury by spreading marmite all around the inside of the letter box."

This was the part where you lost my support. That's a bit too petty.

We changed the locks originally because we caught him in the place doing an inspection unannounced. All our clothes had been gone through and the computer turned on. Funny sounding inspection.

The marmite was deserved. If you’re going to make someone’s life miserable and insecure for six months then we’re going to roll out the red carpet on pettiness.

Nothing is gained by being an asshole to an asshole. All you've done is provided him with documentable proof for how terrible and vindictive he thinks you are. It doesn't matter if every other claim he's made about you was a lie.

Sometimes it is not about personal gain but making sure that any unfair gains are worthless.

How does smearing marmite make the unfair gain worthless? It might make you feel smug for a few hours, but if your enemy is vindictive, it could be used against you.

The best move is to avoid playing the game.

I just asked my other half how she was feeling about it after 16 years and she laughed so clearly petty justice has a lasting effect.

I think the person in question would be in vastly larger amounts of trouble for even raising his head above the cesspool he floated in for a moment. It would be like a chase from the Benny Hill show with local housing enforcement, HMRC, the police and a trail of angry and abused tenants.

The best move is making the game worthless so there are no winners. Shit on the board. It's a stalemate then.

That is not just "an asshole". That is criminal.

It probably felt good though!

If you prioritise the short term over the long term, then yes.

I think the sibling comment demonstrates that it is was long term benefit.

Only a long term benefit in hindsight. Could have gone any number of ways.

Unlikely. There was some intelligence behind it. He was aware the locks had been changed as I explained his in an SMS so I did what he asked explicitly. Secondly I could apologise for the mistake of leaving the wrong keys inside the property. As for the marmite, some kid did a prank! Ooops. Based on the police's previous attitude, would they likely come out for a bit of marmite in a letterbox.

The put the keys through the letterbox thing was actually a masterpiece of idiocy on his part which I refrained from mentioning to him.

> Only a long term benefit in hindsight. Could have gone any number of ways.

Isn't every long-term benefit long-term only in hindsight?

Well it seemed like there were zero long term consequences. So it worked out.


I think you need to read my post again, I'm not talking about real ethics or so-called Christian ethics. I'm talking about doing what's in your selfish best interest. Put simply, don't do things that can be used against you by your enemy.

Maybe it's my hyper-legal American sentiments (pardon the joke at the expense of America's litigious culture, if that's not your particular breed of sardonic humor), but I'm in full agreement here and a little surprised at some of the comments waving this off as anything other than something that would result in justifiable legal-reprisal, if the landlord really wanted to mess with people.

But again, that's probably (very most likely) just the result of me existing in a hyper-litigious culture where In pari delicto is very much a thing.

Right, but now he's telling his mates about how his absolute arsehole of a tenant spread marmite on his letterbox for no reason whatsoever. He still has a story, except this one just makes tenants look evil.

Yeah, but let’s be honest - if he does mention the deposit though - his mates will quickly understand why the marmite ended in his letterbox.

So in the end we’re not giving any ideas to other people that their actions will have no repercussions.

Yeah, but it's a complete waste of Marmite. It ought to be illegal to waste such a heavenly thing as marmite like that.

We'll agree to disagree on that. After 22 years of putting up with marmite in the house I still don't like it ;)

I'm a Brit who has been living in the US for over a decade now. Every now and then I try to introduce American friends and co-workers to the delights of Marmite, but to no avail. Luckily for me, it's relatively easy and affordable to purchase Marmite via Amazon.

To anyone reading this: if this happens to you, please talk to a lawyer. Please do something to protect future tenants, get the landlord's info online. Don't seek retribution just for yourself.

(if you want to burn all your money on a lawyer that is)

It's honestly best to cut your losses and walk away.

> We changed the locks originally because we caught him in the place doing an inspection unannounced. All our clothes had been gone through and the computer turned on. Funny sounding inspection.

That may be a criminal act in your jurisdiction. My local laws allow the landlord access, but the landlord needs to provide 48h notice of the inspection (with a list of specific exceptions for emergency work, mostly around plumbing and electrical work) and cannot bar the tenant from being present during the inspection.

Entirely legal in EU, btw

That's not true. In Austria at least, a landlord certainly can't enter a rented-out apartment unannounced.

I replied to a wrong comment and didn't notice. What I meant is that changing locks is entirely legal in EU.


I've never heard of an EU country where it would be legal to enter without ample warning time.

And also completely false!

Yes, I replied to wrong comment, sorry. I meant that changing locks is entirely legal.

The landlord stole £600 off this guy... but the Marmite thing is too much somehow?

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

I experienced stuff like that from a couple of landlords while I was a student - one of the reasons I was quite happy to buy my first flat at 23 (mind you - that was a long time ago).

Edit: I almost attacked one landlord when I found someone rummaging in a cupboard at night! Landlord was quite indignant when we pointed out he couldn't come and go as he pleased.

Yeah that's roughly what happened here. Although I knew he was likely in there because he parked his motorbike outside.

He was actually in my 2 year old daughter's bedroom when I opened the door. I heard him leave it and come down the stairs.

Small argument ensued and he sent me an SMS right there on his phone saying that he was coming to do an inspection on date X which was that day. Then said "oh sorry must have been delayed" with a smirk on his face, got back on his motorbike and rode off.

"He was actually in my 2 year old daughter's bedroom"

I think I would have phoned the police at that point!

I did. See one of my other comments.

That's probably a great way to get shot, especially in the US. Not only is sneaking into a tenants place (at night of all times) an asshole move, likely illegal, and a clear abuse of power, but it's also such an incredibly stupid thing to do if you value your life.

He evicted us because he could rent it out for more money.

Something about your comment makes me think there's more to this story.

Nothing at all. Paid on time every time and basically decorated the place. Went on the market for £100/month more the moment the tenancy expired and he evicted us.

The guy ran umbrella companies to hide his assets and address and to rip people off, got caught going through our stuff.

He’s still a landlord and has been the director of about 12 companies now in the last 20 years all dissolved.

Who’s the bad one? Hmm

Edit: also the place we had after that I rented for 11 years with no problems direct from landlord and they were excellent and we were excellent back.

> Who’s the bad one? Hmm

And you basically did a disservice to all his future tenants by not reporting him to the police after being caught by you illegally accessing your home and destroying your property? By not reacting you basically silently allowed him to keep doing this. I would understand that he had some kind of power over you and you were afraid to react and report him, but you choose to confront him by being asshole to him, without doing the right thing and reporting him to whatever authority in UK is responsible for this.

Because of that, both of you are bad, though he is a bit worse.

Please don't scold people like this on HN. Threads here are for good conversation, and scolding makes conversation bad.


Actually it's not quite that easy. If you think anyone even gives a crap about this sort of stuff then you're mistaken. Even today.

Firstly, I spoke to the police and they said they couldn't do anything because I likely couldn't prove he was snooping and couldn't prove that it wasn't against the terms and it wouldn't be worthy of their time investigating it and it was probably a civil or contractual issue. "go see a solicitor". Which I couldn't afford.

Secondly, local housing officer was contacted and I was asked to attend the local council about it and I sat there for 4 hours and was told to go home because they had run out of time. I got a letter apologising and attempts to get a second appointment were fruitless.

This was option three.

This was one of the points in my life I realised there is no magical state run safety blanket who will protect you from dickheads.

Sounds familiar. I have some friends suing their old landlord for essentially walking off with their entire deposit (several thousands of £). They moved out of that place more than a year ago - the case is still working its way through the courts. Nothing is simple.

Oh screw that. Come into my home when I'm not there, and enter my 2 year old daughter's room? If the police don't see that as a crime, it's vigilante time. The chances your landlord wasn't attempting some creepy perverted shit is zero to none.

Have you considered some of the landlord's actions might not have been illegal? Anyone from the UK that can chime in on this? Is there an authority responsible for this?

Here's a clause from a U.K. (England and Wales) lease agreement that is pretty standard:

35. Landlord's Covenant for Quiet Enjoyment

The Landlord covenants with the Tenant, that, so long as the Tenant pays the rents reserved by and complies with the obligations of this lease, the Tenant shall have quiet enjoyment of the Property without any interruption by the Landlord or any person claiming under the Landlord except as otherwise permitted by this lease.

There are clauses covering emergency entry for repairs (e.g. burst water pipes, leaking gas) in short-term rental agreements but - as others have said - they require "reasonable" notice in almost all cases aside from dire emergency, and the tenant can still refuse entry.

I don’t know abounthe UK but I’m pretty sure I’ve had a lease agreement when I was a student that gave the landlord the right to enter at Will.

It could still have been illegal, but it was definitely in the lease.

It's not quite that straightforward here in the UK. Well it is but the other way. The landlord has no right to enter a property outright. The property is for exclusive enjoyment by the tenant according to law. They can give 24 hours' notice and enter to do repairs etc but you can refuse that outright and they have no rights beyond that without taking you to court.

If they turn up unannounced this is actually harassment under UK law.

We had some rather unpleasant slum landlords between the 1950s and 1970s which caused a few laws to be introduced. Unfortunately the nature of being a landlord seems to attract certain people who find new and creative ways to be dicks. Not the majority of landlords I will say who are mostly pretty good, but enough to cause problems.

> If they turn up unannounced this is actually harassment under UK law.

They probably have to do this repeatedly to meet the threshold for harassment.

You might be interested in the not very good movie "Pacific Heights" about a psychopathic tenant, if you want to see a fictional telling of how bad it can get for a landlord.

I certainly understand how bad it can get for landlords. I'm not excusing any bad tenants here for sure. I will at least read the synopsis for that film :)

If you ever get stuck with another terrible landlord, it might even give you some ideas. :)

Hahaha that's never a good thing :)

Doesn't have to be. That landlord move was so popular here in Toronto, that they outlawed it.

For example, $75k in fines:


Totally agree. Good to hear this level of enforcement is taking place.

Why? I agree some of the actions are taking it too far, but this part is not that far-fetched. It happens.

I thought I went too far for a few years to be honest. Now I realise that no protection whatsoever was afforded to any private tenants back then other than taking the landlord to court which was expensive, time consuming, resulted in unpaid days off work and generally a waste of time. The moral high ground doesn't necessarily drive the point home either.

Now we have a deposit scheme in the UK which stops landlords doing this because the deposit is held in trust. The landlord has to prove it. Therefore there's escrow and a third party involved. Not being in this scheme is illegal and results in fines that go directly to the tenant as well.

This action is not necessary now, but changing the locks still is because it's your personal space and security and you genuinely don't know who has access to that unless you do it. Could even be the previous tenants with key copies.

There are two types of eviction in England: section 8 (non-payment of rent) and section 21 (no blame).

There are strict protections around section 21 during the "fixed term" (normally 6 months to a year), but after that it's pretty easy to get tenants out even if they've done nothing wrong, and it's common to evict tenants, re-paint, then re-let the property at a big markup.

If you're a tenant in England it's probably a good idea to talk to the landlord each year about a small rent increase.

Is this legal? At least here in Germany, the apartment owner is allowed to enter your apartment using his key in emergency situations. [0]

I can imagine that you can be held liable if, for example, a fire breaks out in your apartment, the apartment owner notices it, tries to enter your apartment to extinguish it, cannot enter because of changed lock, and the building burns down.

[0] as others have mentioned below, this does not seem to be enforceable, even if it is part of the contract, and you are free to change locks after moving in. You only have to give the landlord access to the apartment in case of emergency, and he may enter forcefully if you don't do that (or if you are not present / have changed locks).

> "At least here in Germany, the apartment owner is allowed to enter your apartment using his key in emergency situations."

I am not a lawyer but I know that this is a common misunderstanding in Germany. The landlord is not allowed to keep a key to the apartment he rented out, unless you're explicitly consent to it.[0]

You have to grant him access in case of an emergency and if you don't do that, forced entry may be legal (like in the case of a pipe burst).

[0] https://www.mieterbund.de/index.php?id=566

It's most likely built into all standard landlord agreements. I can't imagine a landlord not wanting to have keys a unit they rent out.

In most US states, landlords are required to give 24 hour notice prior to entering a unit (unless it's a maintenance emergency like a broken water pipe).

If it is in the landlord agreement in Germany, that part of the agreement is void. Such a thing is against German law.

That's good to learn! I think I might replace the lock this weekend.

My rental contract in the Netherlands forbids it, but at one time I discussed it with a lawyer and it's not an enforceable clause. Eventually I had to get the lock replaced and I have no intention of giving the property company a key.

>the apartment owner notices it, tries to enter your apartment to extinguish it, cannot enter because of changed lock, and the building burns down.

The fire department/emergency services would absolutely be allowed to (force) enter...why should the landlord be the savior? Perhaps it's different in Germany.

> Perhaps it's different in Germany.

It's not.

It's legal in the UK for a tenant to change the locks, and there's also no law requiring them to provide the landlord a copy of the key. You do have to allow the landlord in for certain reasons (like maintenance) with advance notice, but you can do that by just being home and letting them in yourself. However, the letting contract might prohibit it, and I think commonly does. It's not a right of the tenant to be able to change the locks, so the contract can restrict it, but it's allowed by default if the contract doesn't say anything.

Details: https://www.urban.co.uk/landlord-university/questions-and-an...

Tenants have common law "exclusive possession" and "right to quiet enjoyment" in a UK residential AST. Landlord's presence must be with tenant's consent, it is trespass and possibly an "unlawful eviction" offence otherwise. Landlord don't even have a right of entry to comply with their own statutory requirements, e.g. gas safety check. The only exception is in an "emergency", e.g. a fire.

>"right to quiet enjoyment"

Ah, yeah I encountered the same in Netherlands. A while back the law changed and some legal liability shifted towards landlords if their tenants were found to be growing cannabis. So my property management company decided that they would do random, unannounced inspections of all their tenants four times per year. Plainly contrary to the authorized, agreed-upon reasons for visits and counter to my right not to be bothered. Cue some unknown to me guy knocking on the door asking to look around. Nope! After I argued with the company a few times and refused them entry they finally stopped pestering me. And I'm not growing cannabis...but neither am I a freshman in a college dorm!

From a recent tenancy agreement I've seen:

g) Permit the Landlord or the Landlord's agents on reasonable notice and at reasonable hours to enter the premises to view the state and condition thereof and if necessary to carry out repairs, alterations or other works.

s) Not to change or install any locks on any doors or windows of the premises or to make duplicate keys thereto and to return all such keys to the Landlord or the Landlord's agents at the end of the tenancy.

v) To permit the Landlord or the Landlord's agents during the last two months of the tenancy to enter the premises at reasonable hours during the day time together with any prospective tenants or purchasers to view the premises.

The first and second terms are unpalatable but could be tolerated under limited circumstances. I would look at concealing a remote-monitored security camera by the front door to catch and alert any unwelcome visitors.

But that third term is a deal-breaker. Eight weeks of living in an unsafe, insecure home with no privacy? I'm not paying rent for that.

My rental contract (AU) has those three clauses parent poster presents, verbatim. It's sickening. I actually have a mind to go and find out from a lawyer if they're enforceable.

I'm not Australian, but my sense is that tenants are viewed by the law as something between children and moral degenerates.

EDIT: and landlords are permitted to (and do) "inspect the property for damage" on a six monthly basis. At which point they tell you the day before they'll be poking around in your home. I don't know why we stand for it, frankly.

Doesn't stop you leaving laundry, tools, bike parts, raw meat, or whatever else you think might put prospective tennants off all over the apartment.

That third one is pretty common in many countries. In New Zealand one of my letting agreements allowed them to show the unit a month prior to moving out.

About six years ago I had to deal with this. The guy showing our place kept forgetting to lock our door afterwards - one time even leaving it ajar.

I've done this and you are correct. Decent landlords won't mind if you request permission to change the locks.

> At least here in Germany, the apartment owner is allowed to enter your apartment using his key in emergency situations.

This is completely wrong. In Germany the apartment owner is not even allowed to keep a copy of the key unless you voluntarily give them one. I live in Germany and I also changed the lock the day I moved in and the landlord is not allow to forbid me from doing that.

Same in France. The owner has to relinquish all its means to access the appartement to the tenant.

If there's an emergency, you kick the door.

If it's not an emergency, then you don't need to enter the apartment without the tenant.

What about a broken waterpipe? That's the most common emergency where a landlord or maintenance staff needs access to prevent building damage.

Who pays for the broken door?

If it is really an emergency (fire, heat failure, plumbing emergency, etc), not kicking down the door will cost far more than the $200 that a new door costs.

Apparently everyone decided I was proposing letting it all burn down. I was only wondering if, by letting the landlord have a key who could be used in an emergency, the tenants where reducing the risk of being on the hook for those extra $200. Of course the emergency must be dealt with.

Insurance company.

The apartment owner, or perhaps their insurance.

In Australia you’re legally allowed to change the locks on your rental but you’re required to give a copy of the new keys to your Agent within x hours (my contract says 24hrs).

We do it for all properties and highly recommend it, as we’ve had an ex-contractor (had worked on renovations) walk into our rental a week after we moved in, letting himself in with his keys thinking no one had moved in yet. Wifey was on the couch and let out a hell of a yell, and we chased him out before calling the Police.

In my experience (UK), a typical rental agreement will require you to inform the landlord/agent and provide them with a key, or even get their prior consent to make the change. (I'm not sure if there's actual law on the subject or if it's purely down to the terms of the contract.)

UK rentals typically require prior approval for any sort of modification made to the home - I've had contracts where they considered hanging a picture to be a modification, so I'm pretty sure changing the locks would come under that clause.

It is completely legal to change the locks as a tenant in Germany: https://www.n-tv.de/ratgeber/Darf-der-Mieter-das-Tuerschloss...

A little bit of googling tells me that in Germany you are allowed to change the lock [1]. Never thought of that, will do it probably next time I move.

[1] https://www.advocard.de/streitlotse/mieten-und-wohnen/schlos...

The owner is allowed to keep a key only if the tenant is allowing him. You can change all the locks as tenant if you do not allow him and if you are not sure he is not keeping a key. If your contract stipulates that you must leave the owner a key, you can still change the lock, the clause in the contract is by law not valid.

In Ontario, it's explicitly illegal. One of the very few parts of the law here that isn't tenant friendly.

Wouldn't say fire, they're going to break the door down anyway, but something like a pipe burst or sewer backup, is also time sensitive but not life threatening and in that situation, you might be liable.

Then you aren’t allowed to use a door latch. A rule an owner is allowed to enter doesn’t mean you have to make it possible, just that you can’t complain if he succeeds in entering.

Good idea - I did this when I bought my house but didn't bother on rental properties. "Euro Cylinder" locks are standardised and really easy to change.

This is also standard practice here in Brazil.

It never occurred to me not to change the locks. The minute I start paying rent, I always saw it as my home.

Upon viewing the place, I make explicitly clear that I expect it to be cleaned and anything that's broken shall be fixed prior to my taking possession and that I will consider the contract null and void if it's not. I ensure this is written into the contract so that if it's not taken care of, the contract is null and void the moment possession is granted.

I ensure that the landlord understands that I expect to be allowed to treat this as my home and that I will decorate to my taste for the duration of my occupation of the property.

The locks get changed the day I move in, pictures are taken to record the state of repair before furniture is moved in. I write up an inspection report with copies of the pictures attached and send it to the landlord.

I decorate as I see fit.

When I leave, I put the house back to the same state or better than it was when I arrived. If I have had to replace any appliances that didn't meet my requirements, I put the original appliances back and take mine with me. The place is left as I would expect it to be when I took possession, which is immaculate.

I take pictures as evidence of the cleanliness of the property and hand copies of these with my keys to the landlord the day I move out. This is mostly as a "You know I took pictures of everything when I moved in, and now I've taken pictures of everything as I'm moving out so don't try anything shady or you will be caught in a lie."

If the landlord wishes to complete an inspection during my stay, they can give me the legally required amount of notice so I can be home to let them in and see them out.

In the 25 years I've been renting properties, I have had only 2 landlords on short leases give me any kind of problems. I've never had a security deposit withheld. I've never been evicted and barring these 2 particular landlords, who failed to meet their obligations as landlords - i.e. fix broken water heaters and burst pipes etc. which I had to foot out of my own pocket and then go through arbitration to recover the costs, I've had nothing but cordial relationships with every landlord I've ever had.

I know there's a shit ton of bad landlords out there and that my experience has largely been one of luck given that I rented student digs too and there's plenty of landlords that prey on students who don't know any better; but it horrifies me how many people allow landlords to treat them with anything less than complete respect. It's your home, you're paying for it. They may own the deed. They may pay the mortgage company. They may be responsible for the upkeep. But it's your home. You should ensure the lease/contract allows room for you to treat it as such before you agree to sign it.

I don't how it works in Canada, but in the U.S., if the lease becomes "null and void", whatever that means, then you lose the contracted right of possession. If you don't leave immediately, you're in material breach, and the landlord will start eviction.

I've had applicants who insist on similar changes, and I'll decline their application every time. It sounds like you're a good guest, but without knowing anything more about someone, I take such behaviour as a big red flag.

Agreed, if the contract is null and void, then the right to possession is negated. As such, I would expect the return of my deposit, which I usually pay upon signing the contract. I usually negotiate to pay the first month's rent upon acceptance of the property after the move-in inspection, at which point I'm satisfied to accept tenancy. If the contract becomes null and void after this time, I fully expect to be required to vacate the premises in a timely manner.

If a landlord decided to decline me for those requests, I would equally see that as a giant red flag and would likely consider that I'd dodged a bullet.

I'm a great guest. I treat the home I live in - including the landlord and neighbours with the greatest of respect. If the landlord is unwilling to accommodate such changes to the contract, then I would assume that they're unlikely to treat me with the respect I would afford them. All business relationships are a two way street. If that affordance is not forthcoming, I wouldn't consider that any kind of arrangement I wish to pursue or maintain.

Uhm yeah, this is illegal in most states. And in case of emergency (fire, flood, gas/water leak, etc.) where a landlord is unable to get in - guess who's going to pay for damages?

If this happened in a property you owned, the fire department would kick down the door anyway. This is no different. Why would a landlord even know your property is on fire before the fire department kicked the door down? Emergency services would be there long before the landlord even knew anything was amiss... and there's a high statistical probability that it was me that called emergency services in the first place and the door would be unlocked. I'm not calling my landlord first, shit needs to be dealt with now, not when the landlord finally checks their voicemail.

So this argument makes little sense to me.

And as another commenter notes - that's what renter's insurance is for.

> And in case of emergency (fire, flood, gas/water leak, etc.) where a landlord is unable to get in - guess who's going to pay for damages?

Renter's insurance?

Smart, and this should be the default.

Standard in Brazil.

Firefox can block muted video from autoplaying:


    media.autoplay.allow-muted false

CNet lost their javascript privileges on my machine a long time ago. This extension is a godsend: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/disable-javas...

You might not even need it if you are already using uBlock Origin. It can disable JavaScript both per-site and globally.

Nice. Thanks.

Also for any Firefox Sync users, you can sync about:config preferences:

1. Open about:config

2. Right click > New (Bool)

3. Preference name = services.sync.prefs. + name of setting; true

eg: services.sync.prefs.media.autoplay.allow-muted

Another way is to use a user.js file, place it inside the FF profile folder (~/.mozilla/firefox/random-string.default) contents like this:

    user_pref("browser.download.folderList", 2);
    user_pref("browser.download.useDownloadDir", false);
    user_pref("browser.download.dir", "/tmp");
    // ...
You do have to manually copy it between computers, but putting all the prefs in here is easier IMO than dealing with a large number of services.sync.prefs.xxx in about:config. And you can place the user.js file in Dropbox/etc. and just make a symlink to it on your devices, so changes get synced automatically after the initial setup.

Does that mess with websites using muted video as a gif replacement?


Leslie Carhart, a relatively well known infosec community person posted about this: https://tisiphone.net/2019/01/28/security-things-to-consider...

Turns out she was right...


I've been following her adventure in this area. She kind of had to become an expert on it quickly when her own apartment decided they were switching to one of these systems, and there was no opt-out short of moving.

Same. I've followed her awhile because she's amusing and generally quite sensible. She was absolutely right to be scared of these.

I see where the story is coming from. Devil's advocate: I think it would be really cool and great for security if the smart lock manufacturer could notify you if your landlord accessed you unit.

I can see pros and cons for both sides, is all...

What happens to such a smart lock if it loses access to electric power (or internet access if it needs one)? Is there a key backup? Do you get locked out of your home if you don't have said backup key with you?

I was an early user of "unnamed" popular Kickstarter door lock and I took my dog out at 9pm and came back to find that the batteries were dead.

I called the customer support and they told me the low battery alert message was sent after I had locked the door and left, which was about a 20 minute trip.

They ended up paying for my locksmith, but I haven't felt comfortable using the lock since so it just sits on my door.

Wow, so it predicted its battery was low less than 20 minutes before it died? That's awful.

My current apartment has a "smart lock" system for entry into the building. The system becomes unresponsive with no electricity, which means you're locked out.

But you can kick open the door anyways, so at least that's an alternative to being locked out.

In my apartment building all of the external access doors are held closed by electromagnetic "locks" that require a key fob to open, unless we lose power, in which case there's no battery backup and they're all unlocked.

Jesus, what if that failed in a fire?

In the case of a fire tenents try to get out of the house and usually there is a normal manual turn lock on the inside of the door that works without electricity.

For the fire fighters, I assume they break down the door anyways?

Nearly all smart locks can be mechanically unlocked from the inside (as required by fire safety regulations).

Add "or the manufacturer decides to deactiveate the servers on which the locks are dependent and the email informing landlord winds up in the spam folder" to the mix.

I just recently had this happen to me and I did get locked out when the battery in the lock died. It happened at 11 at night when I came back from a long trip and my landlord was not responding to calls. After about 10 minutes of Googling I figured out that there are 2 prongs at the bottom of the lock that you can connect a 9-volt battery to to give the lock temporary source of power. I went out and got a 9v battery and unlocked the door with my fob while holding the battery terminals on the 2 prongs.

I guess it's better than nothing but that still sounds awful...

Any GOOD smart lock that you'd want to put on your house will have key backup. You basically have to be a complete douche to install a keyless system in a residential application.

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