Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hell's Kitchen rent-stabilized tenants experiencing discrimination and landlord intimidation by technology

NY Post

 A group of tenants in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment complex say they are being locked out — by technology.

And now they are suing their landlord for the return of their low-tech keys to the front lobby.

“It’s ridiculous that everyone is spending all this money to go to court just to get a key,” said Mary Beth McKenzie, 72, an artist who has lived in the West 45th St. building for nearly five decades. “For 45 years I’ve had a key. And now, we can’t get keys.”

Instead of keys, the building’s owners have installed a new electronic security system called Latch, which requires a smartphone app to access the building’s lobby, where a newly built elevator and the tenants’ mailboxes are located.

McKenzie’s 93-year-old husband has been a virtual shut-in since the new technology was introduced last year because he doesn’t use a cellphone and has difficulty walking up the three flights of stairs to their apartment, she said. Tenants in the complex at 517-525 West 45th St. don’t need to use the lobby to access the stairwells to the buildings, which are between four and five stories each.

McKenzie and some of the other rent-regulated tenants who are suing for the return of their keys say Latch also includes a GPS function that allows the building’s owners to monitor their movements and even their social media.

The app, which is currently in use in more than 1,000 residential buildings in the city, also comes with an 84-page contract which states that any information collected through the Latch system goes to the building owner, the tenants say.

 “It’s a form of harassment,” said McKenzie, whose paintings hang in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. “What happens if your phone dies? I don’t want to be stuck on the street and I don’t want to be surveilled.”

 The owners — a limited liability company controlled by Offir Naim and Shai Bernstein — said they installed Latch to provide tenants greater security following a burglary in August 2018, according to court papers. And the GPS function is optional, they said.

  The Latch system also allows tenants to buzz someone, such as a courier, into the building without having to be at home, court papers say.

Yeah, this is a phenomenal idea. Especially with the rise of cellphone, mail and package delivery theft going around.


Rob in Manhattan said...

I worked in that area,-in theater and at a production house on 12th ave. This was in the late seventies through mid-eighties.

Back then the solution would have been a sledgehammer and crowbar. This was not a neighborhood to mess with.

Now with an influx of milquetoast transplants and those old-timers too elderly, this scum thinks it can push people around.

Another tactic is to use a detective to try and find anything that could be considered a alternate fulltime residence for a regulated tenant so as to try and get them evicted.

This recently happened to a couple I know on the Lower East side. The husband is black and wife Filipina. Her family has a house in Tacloban City and they visit there twice a year when both have vacation time.

The landlord went to housing court claiming that their apt was not “primary residence” even though they were there 50 weeks out of the year.

The judge dismissed the landlord’s case with “extreme prejudice” and instructed my friends to sue the landlord. They did and got a settlement. So-far they have been left alone. However, there should have been criminal prosecution for filing such and obviously fraudulent case to begin with.

Rob in Manhattan.

Gino said...

A landlord has the right to keep records to hours, what kind of shit, drug dealers, whores and possible criminals your are bringing in his building.
Its a liability issue not discrimination.

These people need to stop complaining, play by the rules or get the F_ out
The article tells lies BTW--Tennants who don't have a bluetooth capable phone can also use the keypad with a transponder.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is how we got the financial crisis. Mortgage "brokers" coached borrowers how to lie to the computer making the loan.

Anonymous said...

if I had a hammer

Anonymous said...

They need to work out a way to have both.. you can't force technology on the old.
This is the same issue I was thinking about with the test of no metrocard but smartphones to pay for the subway. We still have a lot of the older generation with flip phones that are not ready or even able to use all this tech.

I don't think it was harassment just thoughtlessness. Hope they fix it.

Anonymous said...

1984. There won't be a place in the world that your private life will be.... private

Gino said...

Older generation with flip phones, hell they don't even know how to use those !!
I use a Nokia flip phone because anybody who need texts, facebooks or tweeters talks to much or has a problem.

You gotta see the hell and long waits I go through at the bank to deposit checks when these old people are at the ATMs.
They cant remember where or what side to put in the debits card and seem "dazed"
The banks should make all these cards semi-arrow shaped.
Metrocard with a phones EISN number would be a good idea but the government would abuse that to spy on people in no time. Smartphones or anything with a Google (android) or Microsoft Operating system is not secure. I refuse to own a smartphone or store on a cloud

Anonymous said...

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JQ LLC said...

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