There are few situations more stressful than not being able to enter your apartment or house. No matter how careful or responsible you are, keys can get lost or broken, and key fobs can stop working for a variety of reasons. Even with today’s high tech advancements and the ease of keyless entry systems, there remains the potential for locking. So what do you do if this happens to you?
Electronic keys versus key fobs
A growing number of buildings in New York are converting to keyless entry systems that use electronic key fobs to enter. These systems increase building security and provide an additional layer of protection for tenants. Reports have shown a noticeable reduction in crime after converting rental properties to electronic key systems. By only allowing a limited number of key fobs per apartment, managers can protect themselves against illegal renters and illegal Airbnb rentals. Since key fobs cannot be copied or duplicated in the same way as a regular key, the landlord and tenants have greater control over who has access to their building and when. Despite these added benefits, electronic key systems can still malfunction or break, leaving residents stranded and locked out of their building.
How smart keys really work
Key fobs and other electronic keys are called smart keys. Today’s smart keys do not fit into a matching lock like standard keys and instead work via radio frequency signals. The transmitter in the key fob sends a signal to the remote device in the receiver, and when it’s near the door, that short-range signal communicates to cause the door to unlock. Working instantly and without the hassle of inserting a key into a lock, these systems are meant to make your life easier. But sometimes they can also provide additional challenges.
What if the key fob stops working?
If your key fob isn’t working, there are several things you can investigate to determine why it isn’t working before calling for help. First, check if you are using the key correctly. If you received a physical key as a backup, try using that instead.
The batteries of the key fob are dead
In most cases, the key fob stops working because the battery is exhausted. Key fobs are usually powered by lithium batteries and will eventually run out of juice. The standard key fob will run out of batteries between three and four years. When this happens, the battery loses its charge and the signal can no longer reach its destination, leaving you stuck outside.
First, try replacing the battery. Lithium batteries can be found at Walgreens or most local bodegas and convenience stores. Changing the key fob battery isn’t too difficult and should only take a few minutes. Online Videos may help, but all it takes is to pry open the edge of the key fob with the flat edge of a knife or tool, then pop out the old battery and put in a new one. Replace the cover and try to use it again.
The key fob has lost connection
Keyless entry systems run on electricity and may not be hooked up to a backup generator. In this case, any sort of power outage could leave residents outside. Some residents report that their dongles won’t work if the building’s Wi-Fi is down. If so, you will need to contact your landlord for assistance and assistance in entering the building. Some buildings have a rear or side entrance that can be used instead, or the owner may have to hold the door open until power is restored.
The key fob has mechanical damage
Another problem could be mechanical damage. Think of all the stress our keys are under. The keys are put in our pockets, seated and placed on the floor. Daily wear and tear can damage key fob technology beyond working conditions. If the battery replacement doesn’t work, try opening the key fob again and check for any signs of damage. This would include cracks in the cage or circuit board, an oxidized or calcified battery, and buttons or electronic components that are not connected to the circuit board.
If the key fob appears to be working fine and has no noticeable damage, but you still can’t get in, there could be damage to the receiving component inside the door. If the door or the lock panel of your front door is damaged, it is possible that the signal cannot be transmitted between the key and the door. In this case, contact your landlord or building manager to come in and find a solution. If these steps have been taken and the owner cannot be reached, call 311 or contact the New York Housing Preservation and Development support department.
Troubleshooting Issues with Standard Lock Keys
If you’re using standard keys and are worried about losing them, one idea is to leave a spare key with a neighbor or trusted friend. Your building owner has a master set of keys and can be contacted to get you a new set, although many buildings charge a fee for issuing replacement keys. If every effort has been made and the owner cannot be reached, dial 311 or contact New York Housing Preservation and Development department.
The key fob constantly fails
If access to your building is a recurring problem, steps can be taken to secure your right of access to the apartment. Many buildings have an alternate entrance on the side or back of the building that uses a regular key. Ask your landlord what options you have for getting in if your keys stop working. It’s best to have a plan laid out beforehand so that you don’t get stuck if the problem arises.
“You could try to find out what the key fob system is and get in touch with the manufacturer,” advises William Gribben, tenant rights specialist and partner at HMG&J law firm, “Find out from a point of mechanical view what can be done.If no one can enter the building, there must be a backup system when the key fob does not work.Either the building management could leave a door open with a security guard security posted there or have an old fashioned lock on the door.
If the owner is unresponsive and unwilling to help, a complaint can be filed with the New York Housing Preservation and Development department to draw attention to the issue. The owners are legally required to provide tenants 24/7 access to his accommodation, and it is your tenant’s right to request it. If the problem is also experienced by other tenants in the building, it may be worth approaching the landlord as a group in a request for a solution.
Hopefully this will never be a problem you encounter, but it’s always best to know your options beforehand. Losing your keys or not being able to get into your apartment can be very scary, and being prepared with spare keys or alternative solutions for entry is smart preventative action.