I Can’t Use My Co-Op’s Keypad Entry On The Sabbath. Am I Entitled To A Side Door Key?


As a co-op owner, you expect to have unfettered access to your home. However, what happens when your religious beliefs conflict with the building’s security measures? This is precisely the dilemma faced by many observant Jews who cannot use electronic devices on the Sabbath. In co-ops with keypad entry systems, this can create a significant problem. Can a co-op owner who cannot use the keypad entry on the Sabbath request a side door key as a reasonable accommodation? The answer is not a simple one.

The Sabbath Observance Dilemma

For observant Jews, the Sabbath is a day of rest, during which they refrain from engaging in various activities, including the use of electronic devices. This means that they cannot use keypads, elevators, or other electronic systems that are commonly found in co-ops. While some co-ops may have alternative arrangements in place, such as a doorman or a manual key system, many rely solely on keypad entry.

The Fair Housing Act and Reasonable Accommodations

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including religious beliefs. Under the FHA, co-ops are required to make reasonable accommodations for residents with disabilities, including those related to religious observance. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment that allows a person with a disability to fully enjoy their home.

Is a Side Door Key a Reasonable Accommodation?

In the case of a co-op owner who cannot use the keypad entry on the Sabbath, a side door key could be considered a reasonable accommodation. This would allow the owner to enter the building without violating their religious beliefs. However, the co-op board may argue that providing a side door key would compromise the building’s security or create an undue burden.

Co-op Board Obligations

Co-op boards have a responsibility to balance the needs of all residents, including those with disabilities. When a resident requests a reasonable accommodation, the board must engage in an interactive process to determine whether the accommodation can be made. This may involve discussing alternative solutions, such as a manual key system or a doorman, that would allow the resident to access the building without violating their religious beliefs.

Practical Considerations

While a side door key may seem like a simple solution, there are practical considerations to take into account. For example, the co-op may need to install a separate lock and key system, which could be costly. Additionally, the board may need to ensure that the side door is secure and monitored to prevent unauthorized access.


Co-op owners who cannot use keypad entry on the Sabbath due to religious beliefs may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation, such as a side door key. However, the co-op board must engage in an interactive process to determine whether this accommodation can be made. By balancing the needs of all residents, co-op boards can ensure that everyone has equal access to their homes, while also respecting the religious beliefs of observant Jews. Ultimately, finding a solution that works for all parties involved requires open communication, understanding, and a willingness to compromise.


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