Exorbitantly Expensive Apartment Security Keys? Is This Allowed?

My strata is charging $100 dollars per key plus an additional $100 refundable deposit and a $23 admin fee. Except the problem is, I own this property and I'm presumably going to keep those keys on a permanent basis, meaning I'd have paid $200 per key?

Are there any laws in NSW fair trading regarding this? I need 2 keys for my family, and paying over $400 for it is a bit much.

Comments

  •  

    Do they keys say do not copy on them? If not can you just take them to a locksmith?

  •  

    Do you not have a key already?
    Just take it to a lock smith and get them to copy it, or get a locksmith to change your lock?

  •  

    you can discuss this on AGM or to the committee.

    It is a new lock they recently installed? normally when this happens they will give out enough keys for each unit. key is per bedroom and extra should cost no more than $20-$25 in my experience.

    •  

      It's a 2 bedroom unit but we only received a single key on settlement. Yes, that was my experience too hence I was so shocked to learn how much they wanted to charge :| unfortunately the last AGM was held just prior to us moving in so we'll have to wait another year for the next one.

      • +1 vote

        so it mean that the previous owner did not pass on all the keys and you could tell the Agent hopefully they can reduce the fee for you.

        •  

          I talked to strata and apparently there was only the one key registered under the previous owner (wouldn't be surprised given how much it costs!) though their records only extend to 2016 apparently.

        •  

          @bluskiy:

          Talk to the committee (chairman or Secretary), they may have power to reduce the fee and negotiate with the agent as they are the one who runs the Strata scheme.

        •  

          @LoveBargain15: Generally this won't be the case. Otherwise it leads to potential conflict of interest issues (Oh, I'll reduce the fees for myself and my friends, etc). Doesn't hurt to ask though.

        •  

          @HighAndDry:

          Can they run for the whole building and ask if anyone need one more and purchase in bulk? locksmith charge $300 to get on site plus $20 per key cost so if more people want more then the cost can be reduce, the agent can get the commission from organising the locksmith.

          This is the service that the agent should cover in the agreement, personal i think the agent just trying to make more money out of it.

        •  

          @LoveBargain15: The strata managers don't profit from these fees - they get paid a flat management fee, and at set rates for certain work (e.g. $N to chase owner for overdue levies, etc). The fees here get put into the overall strata kitty (where your admin levies also go) and get used for the building.

          The price also isn't set on a cost basis, and has only slight relationship to the cost. It's more the long-term (large) cost of having to replace all the locks on the property if enough keys are lost that matters, and that goes to a "charge enough to discourage people from losing them" vs "don't charge too much that people are bankrupted if they need one" balance.

          $100 + $100 + $23 is fairly normal, at least for newer buildings. There are ones where the common property locks are just your normal Bunnings locks, and those could cost $50 a pop but you get a corresponding level of security.

  • -1 vote

    Get a copy done from Bunnings if you have one already

  •  

    keycard ?

  • +5 votes

    Those are standard prices, and take into account not just the cost of physically buying the keys (which are already high for newer security systems), but also has a built-in amount for the cost of updating the system should any get lost (have to remove that key from the system, etc - which requires a call-out of the security system employee).

    Also, this is very short-term thinking. The cheaper or easier the keys are to get, the easier it is for others in the same apartment - including renters, etc - to also get copies and increases the risk of losing them. As an owner-occupier, expensive key and key replacement costs is good because it increases the security of the building as a whole.

    •  

      I understand where you're coming from, but I feel like that shouldn't be included in the initial cost of getting a key in the first place — you should only be charged when you lose the key instead of prior to the event.

      As for the second point, your average $1-2 front door key is arguably much more important for maintaining security but is significantly cheaper to reproduce. Also, the strata manager's response to the security risk that the previous owner may not have relinquished all of their keys was that you're free to change the lock on your own front door! This suggests to me that these expensive security keys are ultimately in the interest of the strata, not the owner-occupiers.

      • +1 vote

        How many keys you get when you buy the property is between you and the seller - strata isn't and shouldn't be involved. If you wanted more, should've negotiated that with the seller.

        your average $1-2 front door key is arguably much more important for maintaining security

        More important isn't the point. If someone gets into the building and does damage even to common property, you'll have to shell out to pay for that too, as an owner.

        This suggests to me that these expensive security keys are ultimately in the interest of the strata, not the owner-occupiers.

        Of course. These keys control access to common property. But as an owner, their interests are also your interests - see above.

    •  

      I'm not sure that they are standard prices? In our previous apartment we were only charged $50 for a set, with no deposit needed. I just don't understand where this huge disparity is coming from.

      • +2 votes

        Is this a newer building? Newer buildings have newer security systems which are more expensive to maintain and/or re-key. And if you're talking about physical keys (as opposed to digital key cards) - if enough keys are lost, they'll literally have to replace the locks - a cost which, again, you'll be paying for. Even if it's not a newer building, prior experience might have taught them to charge more so that people will be more careful with the keys.

        Strata isn't some amorphous 3rd party - it's basically the collective of all the owners. Its costs are your costs. Its money is your money. Your strata manager doesn't profit - they get paid a flat fee.

    •  

      agreed. My previous place charged $200 deposit and some odd amount for the actual key. Assuming that if they ever replace the locks again in the near future that will probably be rolled into the cost.

    •  

      Yeah sounds standard to me.

      The deposit is to cover the cost of you loosing the key and potentially everyone needing a new one.

      Are you sure it’s $400 to get 2 keys ? Would they reduce the deposit or admin fee ?

      It’s probably to stop owners losing the keys and discourage air Bnb etc. Unfortunately what has probably happened is a previous resident has lost the key and quickly moved out before anyone knows.

      Then all residents cop the cost.

      It’s a shame they don’t use swipe cards which are electronically programmed and cost about $20 to replace.

      •  

        But an electronic swipe card system costs many $1,000's to install and further $'s to maintain. The swipe cards are cheap as chips but have to be individually programmed and therefore come at a cost - so all aspects have to be taken into consideration - not just about one plastic swipe card.

        •  

          The high end ones, which are the ones that cost $1000s of dollars, also come with the ability to track access into and out of the building which might be useful for monitoring criminal damage issues. The fact that a card can be removed from the system quickly, and efficiently, without impacting other users makes it much more useful than a standard key system where the loss of one key may mean the replacement of the entire lock. Yes the plastic cards have to be individually programmed, but a manual key requires a new key to be cut; programming the swipe card is a much quicker and easier procedure. We have a PIN/Swipe card system for the front door of our house and it is much better than the manual key system. If we change cleaners we just take out the old PIN/card and add in a new one. We don't need to worry that the cleaner may have copied the keys. We don't need a bunch of keys on hand for people stopping over. Just add them into the system and remove them when finished. Each slot is programmed so you just need to keep track of who has what slot. You can twin the system with MYKI cards so you don't even need a special card. Also, you can't lock yourself out of the house, provided you can remember your PIN.

        •  

          @try2bhelpful:

          Yep this. All you do is message the building manager saying you’ve lost it. Sure they might charge a $50 admin fee but it’s not $400. It also doesn’t involve rekeying every common area lock.

          And as you said you can track who’s going in and out of areas.

          Most modern buildings have swipe card access. I suspect this is a nice ish place but doesn’t have swipe access for whatever reason.

  •  

    If you are the owner and are getting a permanent key, what is the 'refundable deposit' for? Why would you ever be returning the key??

    •  

      It's to discourage people from losing the key, on top of the cost of the key itself.

      To elaborate - if you just get the key and don't lose it, the cost to strata is $X. If you lose it though, the cost to strata (once enough are lost) is going to be $X + N(cost of replacing locks) per key.

  •  

    there will generally be a locksmith on the key. ring them and ask what you need to get them cut.

    They may just require a letter of auth. I assume its a registered key system

  •  

    So you bought this property for $500K and you complaining about $100 key? seriously?
    If key says do not copy (there is a reason behind it, not design to reproduce like rabbits, which mean hard to copy, more expensive to reproduce, little safer than typical key)

    Or you could ring the locksmith or company behind the key, but that wouldn't be cheap either.

    About $100 deposit + admin fee? well you have to talk to body corp on your next meeting. Not sure why you need to pay deposit for every single key you got.

    Are there any laws in NSW fair trading regarding this?

    only law you breaking here is winging in ozb :)

    • +3 votes

      500K might be good value for the apartment; $223 for the key isn't.

      •  

        True but those special keys aren't cheap to duplicate.
        But not sure why you need to pay for the item and the deposit for each item, look like OP need to be part of the body corp meeting and ask questions there.

  • +1 vote

    "only law you breaking here is winging in ozb"

    Doesn't seem OP is a fly in-fly out out poster.

  •  

    What does the key open? Just your apartment door or a common door? If it's just yours you can just buy a new lock. They're easy to install.

  •  

    I’ve had the same issue with my strata in the past. It’s within the powers of the executive committee to decide whether key deposit will be charged or not. My executive committee was adamant about keeping the $200 fee and period. A couple of years later the rules loosened and I managed to get a letter of authorisation from the strata. I went with it to the locksmith engraved on the key and I got two keys for $15 each. Without the letter no one would touch the key - not even the most remote and obscure key shop I could find.

    •  

      last time i tried strata sent the authorisation straight to the locksmith and told me to go pick up after i paid them the deposit.

  •  

    $400 … enough to buy key cutter from aliexp ?

  • +1 vote

    My mother in law has a unit in an aged care complex - similar thing. She has one key; if she locks herself out it costs $70 to get back in. To get another key is also $70. I was shocked and thought it was a scam, but apparently not. The stupid thing is some of the residents have set up cheap key safes - they have used nylon ties to attach them to the screen doors. So the whole ultra security bullshit is out the window. These people are all pensioners and low income.

    • +1 vote

      The fact that it's an aged care complex changes things, but that aside, $70 for what would cost you at least $120 from a locksmith (to open a door if you've locked yourself out), or $70 for a spare key, are both very reasonable amounts.

      The stupid thing is some of the residents have set up cheap key safes

      I mean, yes but that's stupidity on the part of the residents, not on part of management. Management has to have policies to make sure the complex is secure and they'd be negligent if they didn't. But if something happens because of this kind of stupidity, well management can wash their hands of it.

      Though I also assume the keys are inside the key safes so even if it's lost, it'd be hard to access the key itself?

  •  

    Not sure with Strata building but we got a card reader/PIN number lock for our own front door. Every now and again we blow everything away and just re-enter in the ones we want to keep. If we lose a card, or get rid of our cleaner, all we need to do is remove the access from the system. For communal access there is always the risk of someone illegally replicating a card, or passing on their PIN number, but it saves replacing locks if there is an issue and it means people can be removed from the system when they move out.

  •  

    Our agents wanted $100 for the security door key. Strata manager charged $20. Try the strata manager instead of the committee.

  •  

    you have already answered your own question in your opening question,CONTACT THE DEPT OF FAIR TRADING IF THEY CANNOT HELP YOU THEY CAN DIRECT YOU TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE THAT CAN,

  • +1 vote

    This is a much cheaper option

  •  

    are the keys only for your door or they for something else like a common door or security gate? If they are only for yours I would just replace the lock with your own. The strata might say you are not allowed to do this but I would do it anyway.

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