Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Management says I need to provide two keys to my co-op apartment. Is this required?

Every shareholder must leave a key to his or her apartment in case of an emergency.

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Question:

I just moved into a New York City co-op and the management company is demanding that I provide it with two keys to my apartment. Is this really required? Signed, Key Concerns

Answer:

Dear Key,

The answer is yes and no. Every shareholder must leave a key to his or her apartment in case of an emergency. If there is a fire or flood in the building, it is imperative that someone has access to your apartment. That key should be stored in a lock box and only used for emergencies. This is, by the way, required by New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, so you have no choice but to comply.

In our building, the super is the only one who has access and would need to break the lock in said box to retrieve the key.   

The no part of the answer is the second key. In my building we refer to it as a “courtesy key.” This means a key you leave with your doorman in case you lock yourself out of your apartment, something I do about twice a week. This key could also be used for the cleaning person, the dog walker, or a friend or relative who visits often. It is, however, totally at your discretion.

I can certainly understand your concerns about privacy but a doorman building is usually quite secure. There are usually cameras everywhere and professionals whose job it is to secure your safety as well as your privacy. 

My building has several elderly people who live alone and I cannot tell you how many times a key at the front desk has saved a life—or, sad to say, found someone lifeless. 

As an older person myself, I depend on the staff to find me—preferably alive—if they haven’t seen me in a day or two.

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.