How do we use our apartments coded-entry system?
February 27, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

a question about secure/code-entry apartment buildings.

a couple of my friends are moving into a new apartment this week, and their new building features a secure entrance which is only accessible with an actual key or an access code. the property manager has said in two separate exchanges that she has no idea how to use the coded entry function and that they do not assign codes to tenants, and offered no further insight. . this is kind of surprising, as one would think that the property managers would be the ones to handle these codes, or that they could point you in the right direction at the very least.

the thing is, they were in the coffee shop across the street from their new building this week and witnessed a great many people entering the building, all of whom were clearly using a code to unlock the door. they figure they can either call the company who designed the system to possibly get additional information, and failing that, they could possibly approach another tenant in the stairwell and inquire as to how they obtained their code, though that would probably require some elaboration about their apartment number and maybe namedropping the name of the landlord as "proof" that they really reside in the building.

is this normal for these types of buildings? it seems inconceivable that every person in this sizeable apartment building has had to figure this out for themselves. they would really prefer not to approach another tenant if possible. it occurs to us that there could be one communal code, but that would really seem to negate the purpose of this security feature entirely. the only other possibility we've thought of is that the company who designed the system also administrates the codes, but it really seems like it's not their problem once the system is installed, or that they would charge the property management company for this kind of continued maintenance (in which case the management company would be aware of who is administrating the codes, and thus would sending new tenants in their direction in the first place).

thanks mefi!
posted by austere to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
instead of the property manager, there should also be a super or maintenance person in the building - that's who(m?) I would ask.
posted by defcom1 at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2012

Is the code not for buzzing up to a tenant, who then lets you in?

Either way, these systems usually have a "master" code that will unlock the door. For security reasons, companies don't want to give these out to tenants, but sometimes they do out of convenience (perhaps they ran out of cards / fobs for this new tenant) and then it spreads a bit around the building, and some folks just start using it instead of carrying their card. Every building I've lived in had this.
posted by utsutsu at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2012

I would just go back to the mgmt company and say: "I see a lot of people entering the building with a code instead of a key. I'd like the code." Let them figure it out.
posted by OmieWise at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks for the quick replies. just to clarify: there was an initial exchange where they asked the property manager about the coded entry (since they encountered it when they first went to check the apartment out, but they had an actual key to unlock the door). in this first exchange, the property manager said she knew people used a code to get in, but that she didn't know what it was or how they had figured it out.

after noticing this weekend that every single tenant who enters the building is clearly using a code to get in and not a key or keycard, they e-mailed the property manager again this morning, explaining that they had noticed everyone was using a code, and they specifically asked whether it was possible that maintenance would know more about it. the manager basically ignored this question and just reiterated that "they don't program codes".
posted by austere at 10:09 AM on February 27, 2012

Can they ask one of their soon-to-be neighbors how they got their code?
posted by rtha at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2012

Best answer: I think that even the property management company can do this, they are under no obligation to -- they've given your friend a totally acceptable way to get into the apartment, and so if they don't feel like helping out and making it easier and figuring it out, they don't have to (not that this isn't jerky of them... but as far as they're concerned access to the building has been granted and they're now done). I would definitely ask your maintenance people and/or other tenants.
posted by brainmouse at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2012

Just ask one of the neighbors. Why not? It seems a little weird they don't want to.

Be prepared to find out that everyone in the building is using a single code, passed on by word of mouth, unchanged since the place was built. I can still get into a place I last lived at in 2001 using the code. That's the apartment itself mind, not the main door.

And that's assuming the code isn't the address, 1235 or 5431 like 90% of them are.
posted by fshgrl at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2012

Response by poster: thanks again all. they are planning to ask another tenant. this is not a problem, but it struck them as somewhat counter intuitive to approach a total stranger in the stairwell of a secure building to ask for the code to the door, but i'm sure they can explain the situation and all will be well. mostly i think they were just surprised that the property manager didn't have any information at all.
posted by austere at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2012

This is a ask-your-neighbors kind of question. Your friends don't have to be too worried about looking sketchy and proving they live in the building; unless they are utterly and completely anti-social, they'll meet their new neighbors soon enough as part of the process of moving in. Do the getting to know you chat, discuss local quirks like the fantastic bakery around the corner and the weird guy who's always at the coffee shop, and then just say: "by the way, the property manager gave me these keys, but I've noticed everyone seems to just use a code to get in. Marlene (or whoever) at the property manager's had no clue. How does that work?" They'll either tell you the shared communal code, or at least give you more information to go on.
posted by zachlipton at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2012

Honestly, if I were resident in that building? I think I'd be GLAD that the property manager isn't handing out the code to anyone who askes for it via email or phone! Perhaps your friends could stop by the manager's office in person with their lease agreement in hand, and use that to prove their request for the code is a valid one.
posted by easily confused at 6:28 PM on February 27, 2012

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