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Should You Go Keyless? Weighing the pros and cons of a keyless entry system in rental properties

There are many priorities a property manager must keep in mind when dealing with tenants, but perhaps the most important is security. This is someone’s home, after all, and tenants’ safety should always be of the utmost importance to a property manager. Of course, the number one precautionary measure for home safety is the lock.

It used to be so much simpler. A door had a lock, a lock had a key — this was the only way to enter a unit. But with the recent surge in technology, even security is getting a savvy upgrade. With new systems like Latch, physical keys are no longer necessary. However, not all property managers and tenants feel comfortable with the shift into digital.

Is a keyless entry system right for you? Below, we weigh the pros and cons of doing away physical keys.

Pros:

One less thing to forget. We’ve all been there. You’ve left the house and at some point, the thought dawns on you: Do I have my key? Hopefully, the answer is yes, but oftentimes it is no, resulting in a lockout and distressed calls to roommates and landlords. Keyless systems do differ — some still require a small device for access to a unit. However, others simply require a code, so this would eliminate the issue of tenants forgetting their keys, making those heavy key chains just a little bit lighter and reducing the number of accidental lockouts.

Track the hallways. This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits to a keyless system. The technology would allow property managers and tenants to track when people enter and exit a unit, which could be a huge help if future issues arise. Tenant would also feel safer, as many systems allow them to receive a notification when someone opens or closes their door meaning they will always be alert to possible break-ins. If an issue like a break-in or confrontation within the building were to arise, security that lets managers track who has been roaming their halls would be highly beneficial.

Guests welcome. This can be seen as either a pro or con depending on the building and tenants, but with a keyless system, tenants who invite guests over wouldn’t have to arrange for their visitors to get access to their unit. They could simply share their code with guests. Of course, this raises some security issues in and of itself, but it certainly alleviates one headache commonly associated with having visitors. Some systems even allow tenants to designate different codes for different people depending on the role they play in their home, so not all guests have access at all times.

Cons:

Break the bank. While there are a lot of benefits to the keyless system, they do cost quite a bit more than the classic lock and key. However, it’s really just the initial upgrade that poses a real financial threat — it could potentially set you back a couple hundred dollars upon installation. In addition to this, you may run into additional charges for specific features, or monthly fees depending on the service.

Still needs maintenance. In an ideal world, a property manager could have a keyless system installed and quit worrying about it, but the system is still as risk of some wear and tear. After a while, a keypad could break or wear down, meaning some piece of technology might need to be replaced or revamped at some point. However, the frequency of this is likely minimal.

Backlash from tenants. Upgrading a building’s lock system is a big decision, meaning property managers need to deeply consider whether or not it’s worth it for their building to undergo the transition. It’s not just a big decision for the manager, though. Tenants will have to readjust to the new system, and specifically for tenants who have been in a building for a long time, there could be a bit of backlash. Not all tenants will be on board with the switch, so it may be worth a manager’s while to feel around for their thoughts on the change.

A building’s security system is of vital importance, so this decision is an important one. But in the end, whatever you decide, remember that safety is key.