Locks need changing from time to time to remain effective. As a landlord, upgrading household locks is something that should be at the top of your security checklist to keep your tenants and your asset safe. Upgrading the locks might just be the smartest landowner decision you ever make, so here’s how to get started…
Full Security Audit: Know your locks & entry points
Scary but true- most burglars take less than 60 seconds to gain access to a property.
Locks wear with use, and may have even been fitted wrongly in the first place. In order to assess what locks you need to upgrade, you will need to carry out a full security and locks audit, covering the following:
Where would a burglar most likely enter the property?
- Consider garages, sheds, accessible windows and trees as well as front and back doors.
- A back door is still one of the most popular entry points for house burglaries.
What material are my doors made out of?
- Composite/Timber or UPVC (mainly patio doors) are the main materials.
- Different doors take different locks so this is a vital step!
- Do my windows need locks?
- The answer is usually yes! Whether you want sash locks or cylinder locks fitted will depend on your window material.
Get a professional security audit from if you need extra help; this can be provided be certified locksmiths and shouldn’t take too long. A proper locksmith should be able to talk you through all the different security deterrents like bolts, chains, alarm systems and lighting solutions.
No One-Stop Lock Solution
It’s important to know that not all locks were created equal. There are many types of locks and some are best used in different situations; here are the key parameters for assessing locks:
- Material’s suitability for locks
- Property type
- Level of security required
So, replacing a front or backdoor lock is a key (excuse the pun) part of your property security plan. Here’s what to look for when upgrading your locks:
External Timber Doors
These should be fitted with mortice and/or night latch locks certified under the British Standard BS361. You can check this yourself by looking for the stamped Kitemark on your lock. Mortice locks often use a 5-point lever mechanism, but some of them may also operate on a cylinder basis.
External Composite/UPVC Doors
These doors should at the very minimum be fitted with a lock cylinder Kitemarked as TS007 3-star. Even better- get a SS312 diamond approved lock. This is the highest standard you can get for a lock cylinder. Badly installed or poorer quality cylinder locks can become targets for lock snapping which leaves your property vulnerable, so always insist on proper quality installation.
Digital door locks are often seen in offices and schools: they are cheap to fit & effective security measures- consider them if you are fitting out locks on commercial premises.
Extra Door Security Measures
Besides upgraded locks, there are a few other things you can do to make the front or back door extra secure:
- Fitting a door chain- especially recommended for flats.
- Fitting a bolt- simple but effective, a bolt is a tried and tested security measure.
- Fitting a door viewer- so you can see who is on the other side of the door before letting them in.
Make sure the quality of the lock fitting and the handles correspond to the cylinder- look for durable materials and always query why a certain handle is being fitted if you have any concerns. Here is some more useful information on door locks.
The Right Keys
Often people move into properties without knowing how many cut keys are out there! Crazy right? We wouldn’t give out our house keys to strangers, but many people are effectively doing so by not finding out where their keys are. Here are some secure key options professional certified locksmiths can provide:
- Patented keys- you need a proof of identity to cut these keys.
- Restricted keys- very hard to cut copies of these keys.
- Single access key- one key that opens all your locks, minimising the risk of a seldom-used key going missing and ending up in the wrong hands.
Word of warning: Unfortunately, there have recently been incidents of scammers masquerading as locksmiths. These charlatans may trade under legitimate sounding names. They could do serious damage to your property and locks, or worse – gain ready access to your house. Spend some time vetting and checking your locksmith to ensure that they are part of the appropriate certified unions.
Windows and Patio Doors
Windows and patio doors (especially French doors) can be a huge security risk. Here’s what to do to make them more secure:
- Install bottom and top bolts (cylinder locks) on French doors.
- Fit sash jammers on UPVC patio doors.
- Install concealed locking systems into UPVC windows that not only lock the window frames but the handles themselves too.
- Make sure you check the sash window bolts regularly and change them if they are old.
Good Habits Are Key
30% of burglars access properties via unlocked doors or windows! It might seem incredible, but often our own bad habits are to blame for burglaries. It’s very important to cultivate healthy security measures and practices. Don’t leave doors unlocked, even if you are only popping next door. Make sure the kids also understand the importance of locking doors and windows.
Sheds and garages also need locks! Other security items you should consider as part of your locks’ upgrade: alarms, dusk-to-dawn lighting, gates, fences, CCTV and window grilles. Some insurance providers actually give you lower premiums for better, higher quality locks. Here is some guidance on insurance and locks – see how much you could save as a result of your locks’ upgrade!