The security of your rental property depends in large part
on the locks on rental unit doors and the keys to those doors. Here are “key” ways
to minimize security problems in rental units and premises. Contact local
locksmiths and security firms, for specific advice and options on key control
in rental properties. Other landlords and rental property associations may also
have useful advice.
- Keep all duplicate keys in a locked area,
identified by a code that only you and your manager (if any) know. Several
types of locking key drawers and sophisticated key safes are available.
- Don’t label keys with the rental unit number or
name and address of the apartment building, and advise your tenants to take the
- Allow only you and your manager access to master
- Keep track of all keys you give to tenants and,
if necessary, to your employees. Be sure all loaned keys are returned.
- Consider providing keys that can not be
duplicated by the tenant at a local locksmith.
- Charge tenants a reasonable charge for lost keys
(unless local or state law prohibits this type of fee).
- Require tenants to return all keys at move-out.
- Rekey every time a new tenant moves in. This is
the law in some states and cities, and a good idea in all.
- Give careful thought to the security problem of
the front door lock: If the lock opens by an easy-to-copy key, there is no way
to prevent a tenant from copying the key and giving it to others or using it
after he moves out. Consider using locks that have hard-to-copy keys, or (with
rental houses or small properties) rekey the front door when a tenant moves.
There are also easy-to-alter card systems that allow you to change front door
access (and tenant door access) on a regular basis or when a tenant moves.
- Give keys only to people you know and trust. If
you have hired a contractor whom you do not know personally, open the unit for
him and return to close up when he is done. Keep in mind that often even known
and trusted contractors hire others you don’t know.