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Affixing lock on apartment building outside door against protestations of minority of residents


Some 13 of 16 families voted to affix a lock on the outside doors of the apartment building to prevent neighbors from using the elevators on a passthru basis a phenomenon which has reached intolerable proportions (both in wait time for elevator, resource usage and litter and even acts of vandalism). The main objection presented by the “against” is the lock will “limit” their own usage of the public areas by preventing ease of opening of door by their children. Also, the against claim is the majority is preventing his performance of chesed. The last time a lock was installed by decision of the vaad bayit, an objecting resident removed it. The illicit neighbor users of the elevator tell us we will be displaying midas Sdom if we prevent the elevator usage to all. Other buildings on the street have installed locks already. There is a public staircase next to our building but naturally the elevator is more convenient.

May the majority act upon its wishes to install locks? May the individual prevent? If he [admits to] damages or removes the public lock, is he liable?

What does the rav suggest short of a din Torah, ie, what is halachic opinion on this.
Thank you


If the minhag in the place is that most building don’t have locks on their front door, then the tenants that object to having a lock are correct, since that is the minhag of that place. The tenants may put a lock on the elevator, so that only those who are unauthorized to use will not be able to.

As a side point, it is not midas Sidom to prevent people from using the elevator, since it is an extra expanse and because of the damage that they cause.

Best wishes

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  1. The questioner noted, that other buildings on the street have already installed locks on their front door.

    How do we determine the “minhag”?
    Do we do a survey of all the houses on the block, that are similarly affected?
    Do we do a survey of the entire city?

    1. According to Horav Y. Cahen shlit”a it goes according to the neighborhood, and it should be about half that have locks installed. Others say about 30%.

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