How to Select a Lock

How to Select a Lock

This is a discussion on selecting door locks for apartment communities. Having this conversation ten years ago our consensus was that early in the 21st century we will all have paperless offices and key-less locks. Guess what; didn’t happen. Is your office paperless? Are your communities key-less? The likelihood is low.

Electronic locks are the future. They provide a myriad of benefits to commercial multifamily property owners. New developments with on-site management must consider the benefits of electronic locks. Then there is everyone else; those with assets new and old that have 100 year-old technology (older really)- the lock and key.

Locks represent the ultimate “weakest link” theory, whereas, the weakest link is always the first to break down. As property manager, it is your jobto strengthen any and all weak systems. The beginning point for selecting locks is to perform an assessment of the in-place lock and safety systems. Are they appropriate, are they functional considering the multifamily assets and the placement of the asset within the community?

The first order of business is to know without question the whereabouts of every master key. One lost master key can mean thousands of dollars in re-keying expenses.

• Is there a schedule for checking the whereabouts of master keys?
• Are they accounted for when there is personnel turnover?
• Are master keys stamped with “do not duplicate”?

Do they work? Locks are like the heat shield system on the Space Shuttle- they either work or they don’t. There is no second chance when put to the test. Granted, locks are not designed to withstand an assault on the entire entryway. But they should function as a deterrent to easy entry by unknown parties.

When selecting locks aim for uniformity in quality and brand. Larger properties, or property management companies, will have equipment for re-keying on-site or at a central maintenance facility so it just makes sense to utilize a single make and model. This is also a step towards controlling expenses when implemented.

Locks and keys is one operational area where the low cost bid could be a negative. Consider buying a third-party opinion from a locksmith; having a locksmith perform an assessment for a flat fee. You may be surprised at the findings.

About This Blog
Multifamily Insight is dedicated to assisting current and future multifamily property owners, operators and investors in executing specific tasks that allow multifamily assets to operate at their highest level of efficiency. We discuss real world issues in multifamily property management and acquisitions. This blog is intended to be informational only and does not provide legal, financial or accounting advice. Seek professional counsel. For more information, visit:




John Wilhoit, Jr. is President of Wilhoit Investment Network, LLC, (WIN LLC) an owner and asset manager of apartments, condominiums and town homes. Mr. Wilhoit’s career has focused on high volume, large-scale multifamily communities including market rate and mixed-finance…



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