Multifamily key management is stressful, time-consuming, and costly. From key storage to lock replacement, there are so many headaches involved with a traditional lock and key system. Luckily, smart door locks and keyless entry technology were created to eliminate the complications that typically come with traditional door locks.
We would like to highlight some outdated key management methods that are replaced by smart locks and keyless entry technology. But before we begin, we want to explain exactly what keyless entry technology is and how it works for multifamily properties.
What is Keyless Entry Technology?
Keyless entry technology allows property managers to manage unit access remotely without any physical keys.
Residents can lock and unlock their doors with an app on their phone, or they can enter an access code into their smart door lock. If a renter leaves their apartment and suspects they forgot to lock the front door, they can check their mobile app to see whether it is locked or unlocked.
Property managers can oversee all of this from their property management web portal. They can see which vacant units are locked or unlocked at all times and can change the access code for a unit when a resident moves out.
Property managers can also issue temporary access codes to maintenance personnel or guests who are doing self-guided unit tours. Additionally, keyless entry can be used for common areas such as pools or laundry rooms.
Keyless entry technology enables property staff to oversee access control without being in the office. All they need is their PC or tablet.
If you currently use traditional locks, below are some processes you could say goodbye to with keyless entry.
Using a Key Inventory System
Designing a key inventory system is complex and gets trickier the more units you have. One of the first things you do is create a system of key codes for each key. For security reasons, the key codes cannot include the unit number or any other information about the unit or resident.
Unit keys are not the only keys that need to be monitored. You’ll also need to account for access to other facilities such as common areas and storage. Property management staff must check the keys in and out, taking note of their location at all times.
For example, if a unit key is checked out by a maintenance worker, the property staff must note which key is checked out, when it was checked out, and then record when the key is checked back in. It’s tedious to keep track of each key when you’re managing several units.
Storing keys is another crucial part of key management. It can be a huge hassle whether you’re using a key cabinet, key binder, or wall hooks. Key storage takes up space and requires extra security to ensure that the keys are protected at all times.
Safeguarding the key storage usually involves multiple steps including requiring staff to scan their badges and enter an access code.
Storage of physical keys becomes unnecessary when you have keyless entry since everything is handled digitally and stored in a secure cloud.
Training Employees on Key Management
Coming up with a key management system is complicated enough, but training and trusting your staff and residents to uphold it, is a whole other monster. Careless handling of keys can be a huge security risk for your property, so your team must be properly educated.
Once you’ve established all of the procedures, you need to be able to rely on the property staff to keep every key secure. You also need the peace of mind that your residents are being responsible with their keys.
Implementing keyless entry technology will require some level of training for employees, but it is a much simpler training process than that of traditional keys since everything is tracked in one central, digital location.
Replacing Locks and Keys
Apartment door locks gradually deteriorate due to a few different causes. One of the most common culprits is the weather. Fluctuating temperatures can cause a lock to expand, and extreme cold can cause a lock to freeze. Another cause of decay is the long-term build-up of dirt and grime, which can cause a lock to get stuck.
The same goes for keys. Apartment keys can naturally wear out since they are made of soft metals and often deteriorate from the build-up of rust. Keys can also be damaged due to misuse like trying to use them to open a can.
Any apartment door lock or key will be subject to typical wear and tear, depending on how old it is. Eventually, both will get to the point where they need to be replaced.
Another reason you’ll find yourself replacing keys is when your residents lose them. Some property managers add the cost of replacing keys to the resident’s deposit beforehand and might even have a couple of backup keys. However, some residents can be repeat offenders and cause you to spend extra time getting replacements made.
When an apartment building operates on keyless entry, the property manager doesn’t need to worry about damaged locks or lost keys. This is because the locks are composed of a simple keypad, and keys themselves are eliminated altogether.
Issuing Keys to Maintenance Personnel
It seems that the resident is never home when the maintenance person needs to get into their apartment. Most of the time, the property manager will issue a unit key to the maintenance person beforehand, and then keep track of it to ensure it returns to key storage afterward.
Alternatively, the property manager might issue master keys to maintenance staff as a more efficient way of providing them unit access. The problem is, master keys come with a risk, which we will discuss in more detail later on.
Neither of these methods are needed when a smart lock system is installed. For example, if you need to let a plumber into unit 102, all you need to do is log in to your property management web portal and create an access code for unit 102.
You would then email or text the code to the plumber, and they would enter it into the keypad on the smart lock.
However, maintenance personnel aren’t the only people who will find themselves in need of apartment keys.
Helping Residents Who Locked Themselves Out
If you’re a property manager, chances are you’ve received a phone call at least once in the middle of the night from a resident who locked themselves out of their apartment. If not, you’ve certainly still had to issue a key replacement if the incident was due to misplaced keys.
In some cases, the resident will call a locksmith to help them get back into their apartment. However, locksmiths will not always be able to find a way to unlock the door. At times, they may even end up causing damage to the lock or the door to get it open. When locks get damaged, property managers are forced to go through the process of getting the locks repaired or replaced.
With keyless entry, residents are less likely to lock themselves out since keys are not involved. However, if a resident misplaces their phone and/or forgets their access code and can’t get into their apartment, all you would need to do is issue them a new temporary access code to use.
The Liability of Master Keys
A master key can provide some level of convenience to staff but has a high amount of risk associated with it. Master keys will often have access to several units – sometimes a whole floor, sometimes a whole building.
If one of those keys gets into the wrong hands, there can be severe consequences. Master keys require an extra level of security and your staff must be properly trained on maintaining it.
Master keys are completely irrelevant if your building is equipped with smart locks. As a property manager/owner/operator, you can unlock any unit from a secure portal on your PC.
Traditional Unit Tours
The traditional way of conducting unit tours is becoming less and less common. Up until recently, apartment tours would require a leasing agent to schedule time out of their day to go meet with prospective residents and give them a tour of the unit. This has never been the most efficient use of a leasing agent’s time.
With keyless entry, the leasing agent can facilitate a self-guided tour. A self-guided tour is where the potential renter tours the unit without a leasing agent present.
The property manager simply creates a temporary access code and issues it to the renter by email or text. The renter then punches the access code into the smart door lock and enters the unit for the tour. The access code expires after the preset time limit is exceeded.
83% of renters would rather have a self-guided tour than a traditional and virtual tour. Prospective residents enjoy touring the unit at their own pace, without the pressure of a leasing agent.
Furthermore, the conversation rate on self-guided tours is 11% higher than that of traditional tours. Conducting self-guided tours will increase the number of unit tours you book and the number of leases signed.
Self-guided tours is just one of the many benefits of using smart apartment technology for your multifamily business.
Collecting Keys from Departing Residents
One of the most important steps of a resident’s departure, is the return of their apartment keys. Some residents will fail to complete this step. When that happens, it is imperative to calculate how much to subtract from their security deposit and then get a replacement made, both of which are things we’re sure you’d love to avoid.
On top of collecting the resident’s keys, many properties rekey the locks as an added security measure. Manually rekeying locks is another time-consuming task that you could do without.
The first step of lock re-keying is creating the new key. To create a new key, you need only take apart the lock and reposition the cylinder and pins around your new key. Using a re-keying kit is a common solution, but can only go so far in speeding up the process.
If the unit has a smart lock, all you need to do when residents move out is remove them from the online system. Removal from the system takes mere seconds. Once they’re out of the system, their phone app will no longer have the capability of unlocking their door, and their access code will be changed.
This simple process saves the time and money that would otherwise be spent rekeying the locks for every unit that turns over.
Your Next Steps
Managing a multifamily property is far from easy. With so much going on at once, it requires a great deal of hard work and excellent time management. That’s why it is so crucial to make your day-to-day operations easier and more efficient. Why not start by simplifying your key management system?
With keyless entry, things like key storage and lock replacement are a thing of the past. Smart door locks save time and money for your multifamily properties by streamlining your key management processes. Learn more about our keyless entry technology solutions and start making property management easier for yourself.
Key management isn’t the only thing you can optimize in your multifamily property. Check out our other smart devices designed to work together to optimize property operations.