Realty Bites

My landlord wants $100 to replace a lost apartment key. Can he charge me this fee?

By Austin Havens-Bowen | February 22, 2022 - 3:30PM

Looking for your keys? Expect to pay for a replacement if you can't find them. 

iStock 

Question:

I lost my apartment key and the landlord wants $100 to replace it. I was only given one key when I moved in. Is he entitled to charge a replacement fee?

Answer:

When you move in, a New York City landlord is required to provide you with keys to the apartment and building. But if you lose a key, you may be asked to pay to replace it—and there's no limit on how much a landlord can charge, according to sources that Brick spoke to.

It's typical to receive one key, says Adjina Dekidjiev, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg. When it comes to replacing a lost key, your lease should explain how much you will be charged. Dekidjiev has seen landlords charge as much as $350. 

A sample of a lease shared with Brick includes the following: “Tenant will be charged a rekeying fee in the sum of $350 for the entrance door each and every time a key replacement is required or deemed necessary by owner if the need arises due to tenant’s loss of the key, employee changes, or request.”


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If your lease includes fees for key replacement, your landlord cannot charge you more than that. If your lease doesn’t spell out these terms, check to see if there is a rider, or addition to the lease, with this information, says Cecilia Serrano, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg. 

Of course every landlord is different. Some may give you a key for free and others may charge more if the apartment has multiple locks (more keys to replace) or has electronic key fobs, which are more expensive. 

And if you also need locksmith services, those fees are usually your responsibility, Serrano says. The fees for a locksmith in NYC range from $75 to $500, according to HomeAdvisor. 

You should also know that you have the right to install an additional lock on your apartment’s door, but those costs are your responsibility according to NYC’s housing laws. And you must give your landlord a key for the extra lock if they request it. 

To avoid this in the future, make a copy of your key and ask someone you trust to hold onto it—or buy a tracking device, like Apple’s AirTags, in case you lose them again.

 

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