Realty Bites

Do I need a landlord's permission to install a smart lock on my apartment's front door?

By Austin Havens-Bowen  |
April 28, 2022 - 1:00PM

Yes, you need to check with your landlord before changing your apartment's front door lock. 


I want to install a smart lock on my apartment’s front door. Do I need my landlord’s approval? Do I have to provide access to the apartment for him?

Smart locks add extra security to your apartment and allow remote access to building staff, cleaning people, and even your friends when you're away. But as a renter, there are always things to consider before you make any alterations to your place.

First, before you invest in one, reach out to your landlord to get approval. That’s because some landlords might have restrictions or requirements. For example, Arik Lifshitz, CEO of DSA Property Group, says their tenants are not allowed to remove the original lock from the front door but they can install an extra one, including smart devices, he says. 

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Like most smart technology, these locks are relatively new so be understanding if your landlord is hesitant to let you install one. They’re also relatively uncommon in NYC rental buildings, according to brokers Brick spoke to. Becki Danchik, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg, says she has only seen one rental with a smart lock; it was installed for the agent to use during showings. 

If your landlord agrees to the smart lock, you should get the agreement in writing, says Gerard Splendore, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg. This is important if your lease says you cannot make any alterations. And don’t forget to remove the lock before you move out—or you might risk losing some of your security deposit. 

You should also make sure that the smart lock works with your type of door, so you don’t damage it. When it comes to installation, you can usually do it yourself, but you are responsible for any damage, including when it’s removed, Liftshitz says. 

Will you have to provide your landlord with a way to access your apartment? Yes, because they might need to enter your apartment in case of an emergency, for example, if there’s a leak or smell of gas in the building, Splendore says. Your lease likely says your landlord must have emergency access. Some of these devices fit over your existing lock and others replace the system with a new key (just in case you don’t have your smartphone). Either way, be prepared to share access with your landlord. 

When it comes to finding a landlord-friendly smart lock, check out August, which starts at $150 (and are currently on sale). It’s one of the best for rentals because it fits over a deadbolt-style lock and does not tamper with the outside of your door, according to their site. For other options, Wirecutter recommends Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro ($200) and the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt ($340).



Austin Havens-Bowen

Staff Writer

Staff writer Austin Havens-Bowen covers the rental market and answers renters' questions in a column called Realty Bites. He previously reported on local news for the Queens Ledger and The Hunts Point Express in the Bronx. He graduated from Hunter College with a BA in media studies. He rents a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria with his boyfriend and their two cats.

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