Castle wardens no longer have master keys - give a spare key to your friend next door

At its meeting 6/2021 today, the Board of Aalto University Student Union has decided that castle wardens will no longer have the master key. The Board will clarify more resident-friendly options to the door opening services provided by the maintenance company. The purpose is to reduce the risks in a situation where the keys are lost. AYY cannot hold a resident responsible for tasks that are the responsibility of the landlord or the maintenance company, such as opening the door for a resident who has forgotten their key inside.

The castle wardens are trustees chosen by the residents. Almost all AYY properties have castle wardens. The position is based on the Act on Joint Management of Rental Buildings*, which obliges AYY as a landlord to allow residential activities and the opportunity to influence the comfort of living. The castle wardens coordinate the activities of the resident council and act as a liaison between the residents and the Student Union. In addition, they supervise the condition of the building with their monthly inspection rounds.  

According to the former practice, the castle wardens have had the master key to the buildings. The most visible service for the residents has been the castle wardens’ opportunity to open the door in the locations with a castle warden.

Behind the decision are risks related to the landlord’s liability insurance and legal protection 

The AYY Board has decided today/yesterday at its meeting 6/2021 that the master key for AYY’s properties will no longer be handed over to castle wardens appointed from among the residents. Recently, we have detected misuse of the master key and become aware of the risks related to liabilities and consequences in case of misuse and loss of keys. As a landlord AYY cannot hold a resident responsible for tasks that are the responsibility of the landlord or the maintenance company

In addition, the burden on castle wardens must be considered. Door openings are usually requested in the evening and at night, during holidays and weekends. In addition, now that the Services Office is closed due to the corona restrictions, it has not been possible to pick up a spare key from Otaniemi during the day. Because of this, the opening of the doors has been more burdensome to castle wardens over the past year. 

In the future, AYY wants to act responsibly as a landlord and in the manner prescribed by the law. Therefore, the master keys will be collected from the castle wardens who are volunteers in residential activities. At the same time, AYY decided to clarify more resident-friendly options to the door-opening service provided by the maintenance company. 

“Especially in the Otaniemi area, the door-opening service of maintenance companies has been expensive, and we are now exploring other options,” says Samuli Vehkomäki, Board Member responsible for housing. “Other providers of student housing across Finland also have an affordable door opening service.” Residents will be informed of the solutions as soon as possible.

Vehkomäki would also like to remind that a castle warden’s duty is still to promote projects that improve the comfort of living together with the resident council and other residents. Monthly inspection rounds can be carried out without the master key.  

Avaimet keltaisella taustalla

What to do if I forget my key and lock myself out of my apartment? 

The resident must contact the maintenance company of their building if they want to get back to their apartment. Castle wardens will no longer have the master key and cannot be asked to open the door. 

“The most convenient way is to give your spare key to a friend living nearby or to a familiar neighbour,” suggests Service and Rental Manager Minna Merensilta.

Under normal circumstances, it would be possible to pick up a spare key from the Otaniemi Services Office. However, this option is not available now due to an exceptional situation caused by COVID-19. AYY follows the instructions of the authorities and aims to open the Services Office as soon as it is safe to do so. 

More information on the decision: 
Samuli Vehkomäki, Member of the AYY Board, housing, [email protected]

Minna Merensilta, Service and Rental Manager, [email protected] 

*The Act on Joint Management of Rental Buildings (649/1990)  

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