Cameron Cowan | Knowledge Steward
As rental property owners, lost keys are something that happen and replacing them can be expensive, nerve-racking, and troublesome, especially if you are traveling when this occurs. Lockouts are another reality of owning rental property. Different people handle this problem different ways. Some landlords climb out of bed at any hour and go unlock the rental property and charge the tenant. Others, tell the tenant to call a designated locksmith to get the door open.
But what if you didn’t have to do either of those solutions? What if you could lock and unlock your property from anywhere with an internet connection? What if your tenants didn’t have to keep track of keys and just needed a code? Either of these solutions could be an excellent retrofit to your apartment building or single-family home and provide you with convenience and piece of mind.
Let’s face it, the lock hasn’t changed much in the 150 years since the pin and tumbler lock was invented and became common. Hotels and modern dorms have long moved on from the metal key system and have key cards and other options for keyless entry. Metal keys are used as a back-up, but not the primary way someone enters through a door.
There are two basic lock systems that you can consider:
You’ve probably seen electronic locks already. These locks look like a traditional locking system but have rows of buttons at the top. They are programmable with several codes and are great for shared living scenarios as each roommate or even vendors can have their own code. The batteries last 2-3 years before needing replacement. These locks are made my Schlage, Kwikset, and other popular manufacturers at hardware stores and are easily installed into your existing doors. Prices start at around $110.
These new types of locks use encrypted Bluetooth and wi-fi to unlock using a keycard, smartphone or door code. These often can be controlled remotely and create a log of who entered the premises when. These locks are ideal for vacation rentals, but can also be great for shared living situations or small multi-family units. One of the standouts in this field is called LATCH (latch.com). They offer 3 models for various uses but the Latch M series is ideal for a rental property and can be unlocked with a keycard, phone, door-code, and can keep a log (if desired). It is easy to install and the batteries last up to a year with normal usage and are easy to replace. The lock will notify you when you the batteries need to be changed!
The humble door lock has come a long way. So before you have to charge a tenant for another unlock or have find a way to get a key to a vendor, thinking about the possibilities of electronic or smart locks!