Keyless entry systems are starting to make their way to your apartment door. While smart locks have been available to individual homeowners for a few years, developers and property management companies have been hesitant to lose the key, citing the cost of upgrading hundreds of locks and the risk of losing money if the technology goes the way of Betamax.
Now that’s starting to change.
Latch, a new keyless entry system from a two-year-old start-up with the same name, is being introduced at a range of properties, from a four-unit East Village walk-up to a 431-unit luxury doorman rental in Chelsea, managed by real estate firms that have invested in the technology, like Corigin and Pan Am Equities. KISI, another keyless entry provider that has made strides in offices, is also turning its attention toward residences, with plans to roll out the system at a new 570-unit development on Staten Island in March.
For residents, especially those who make heavy use of on-demand deliveries, the pitch is control and convenience. Instead of doling out keys to your pet-sitter, contractor or houseguests, you can issue a virtual key. Instead of worrying about extra keys floating around that you lent out but never got back, you can simply disable access.
Landlords and property management companies can track the comings and goings of workers, guests and deliveries. If a tenant moves out, or doesn’t pay his rent, “keys” can be turned off. Access to health clubs, children’s lounges, pools and bike rooms can also be easily added or subtracted.
Designed by Thomas Meyerhoffer, a Swedish-born designer whose early career includes tenure at Apple, Latch is a contemporary take on the classic mortise lock. Perched above the traditional keyhole, a discreet camera sits behind a circular touch screen. Like an unblinking eye, it records who is at the door, so residents can determine whom to let in. Bluetooth technology allows Latch to communicate with your phone.
Once you register and download the app, there are a number of ways to open a door. You can use the app on your smartphone, input a key code on the circular touch pad on the door, or use an old-fashioned key. “We realize that not everyone will want to use it digitally,” said Luke Schoenfelder, the chief executive of Latch. The app can also be configured so that the door unlocks automatically upon sensing the phone in your pocket.
Access via key codes can be issued permanently, temporarily for deliveries or on a set schedule, as for a dog-walker. The system creates a record of every entry so you — and your landlord — can see who has been there and for how long.
Because your custom passcode always lets you in, you won’t get locked out if you leave your phone in a cab. You can also deactivate the code by logging into your account, if your phone is lost or stolen.