Reviewing and upgrading security can be daunting on one property but when there are a few properties to consider it can become an even bigger challenge.
Here Dr Steffan George from the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) gives his top tips on managing ‘lock security’ across a number of properties.
Steffan George said: “Our members often find that the biggest challenge for landlords who own more than one property is keeping track of all of the keys for each home. Landlords can opt for colour co-ordinated key rings to try to distinguish one key and property from another, but labelling can be time consuming and difficult to work with, particularly when you are in a hurry.
”In this instance we would recommend installation of a master key system which could be invaluable to landlords or agents. A master key system is one where a single key operates all locks in a system while other keys are configured to only open certain locks.”
A master key system for landlords would allow their key opens all of the locks across their property portfolio but their tenants’ keys would only open their individual flats or houses. Keys can also open more than one lock for each home so for instance tenants can use one key to open front and back doors as well as additional locks to garages or conservatories.
Landlords are legally able to retain a copy of keys to a property but they cannot turn up unannounced and they must give tenants at least 24 hours written notice to enter their home, although some tenancy contracts may state a longer notice period so it is worth landlords double checking their individual contractual agreements to ensure they are in agreement. In emergency situations access can be agreed with tenants and landlords on a case-by-case basis.
Such systems make managing keys easier for landlords but retain a high level of security for tenants. Tenants of the same agent would not be able to enter each others’ properties as their key will only work for their own doors.
Master key systems are often used by businesses whereby a number of different companies operate under one roof, but the system can work incredibly well for agents or landlords too as they can make property management easier and often more secure.
Steffan George added: “As well as installing master key systems our members often recommend keys are patented or restricted. Patented keys carry legal protection which prevents copies of the keys being made without proof of ownership, while restricted keys are unlikely to be copied due to their unusual design and unique mechanical features which only specialists can copy.
“Such systems ensure no rogue keys can be made by your tenants, visitors or even tradespeople for your properties. As you receive all of your keys back when a tenant is leaving your property, you are assured nobody will have unauthorised access to your property with a key.
“The added benefit of patented or restricted keys, are if a key goes missing a lock can be reconfigured and a new key issued for that property – which is much cheaper than replacing all of the locks.”
The MLA has just launched a new, more user-friendly, website www.locksmiths.co.uk, where you can search by postcode, region or area of specialism to find approved, vetted and inspected locksmiths local to your property.
For further information or to find an approved MLA company please visit www.locksmiths.co.uk
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By: Dr Steffan George, development director at the Master Locksmiths Association