Lock selection by landlords

48 Replies

which brand of locks do you use at your rentals?

The good stuff Medeco? Baldwin?

Middle of the road Schlage?

Lower end kwikset?

Or even Defiant from the home depot?

I used to use medeco, impossible to get in with a bump key, but to duplicate a key you need to send in a code and pay $25 for one key. Too much hassle.

But then for properties with glass lite doors or French doors does it really matter?

Would also be interested in properties in rehab, where there is no coverage for theft and burglary, and you have expensive tools, materials and appliances in staging areas. What type of locks do you use? Do you install an alarm system while rehabbing?

I use Kwikset Smart Key locks on all my properties. Rural Missouri is very different from Fort Lauderdale, however.

As I said in another thread I strongly recommend Landlordlocks. More expensive to buy at first but takes seconds to rekey. I've been using these for ten years and fully endorse them. And if you have a problem they have great customer service. Did I mention that many of Ernie's workers are Amish?

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100% agree with @Cal C. - if you're not using LLL then you should be. They do have a website that I pretty much use as a catalogue (I don't order off of it). The site is a bit clunky, but as soon as I know what I want (or if I've ordered it in the past) I call them and give them my name and what I want. If it's similar to a past order (I almost always order a deadbolt and handleset) then I ask them to look that up and give me X of this and Y of that.

They come pre-keyed for a master that you get with your first order and then every order in the future is keyed on a separate key (unless you want replacement/duplicate) and works on your master.

I've got my master on the ring with my house key and car key and can get into any of my apartments at any time and change out a lock in seconds. These are Kwikset locks with a special change-out key, so you are getting top quality as well.

I've got no affiliation with them other than that I've been a very satisfied customer for years! Every time I buy a new building the first thing I do is count the deadbolts and handles and order my new ones.

Link: http://landlordlocks.com/

Originally posted by @Sam Leon :
Would also be interested in properties in rehab, where there is no coverage for theft and burglary, and you have expensive tools, materials and appliances in staging areas. What type of locks do you use? Do you install an alarm system while rehabbing?

I've had multiple rehabs broken into and it was never because of the locks (maybe different in your area). The most common culprit is the contractor leaving tools openly visible to invite the attention or not properly locking/closing off the building. If somebody wants to get in, they're going to get in. I watched an episode of "Flip or Flop" last night where they had 3 break-ins in ~30 days - one of which was after installing security cameras and putting up signage. Didn't deter the intruders at all because they knew nobody was living there and there were tools just sitting around.

Even there - I think the culprit was cheap doors (door jambs) and windows. An expensive deadbolt wouldn't have made any difference.

Im with @Cal C. and @Michael Seeker about Landlord Locks. I have been using them for about 8-10 years now and really like their product. You really dont' want to be changing the whole mechanism all the time and wearing out your door or the frame. Its nice to just change the cylinder and it takes about 10-15 seconds per lock.

I think the future is certainly headed toward a Bluetooth type of mechanism because it provides so much more flexibility, but right now the technology is way too expensive.

Some once said, "a lock is meant to keep an honest man out." Thieves will always find a way in. If a night guard isn't affordable, always take tools home.

We have a hodge podge from the previous owner but the Landlord locks is a good tip. I always learn something here.

Do you any of you use a lockbox and what for? or do you give contractors a key.

I switched all the locks on my rentals over to the Kwikset Smart Key system and have been very happy with it. Less expensive than the Landlord Locks, and they don't require any extra parts/costs to re-key. I can re-key an entire house in under one minute. Doesn't get any easier than that.

Originally posted by @Kyle J. :
I switched all the locks on my rentals over to the Kwikset Smart Key system and have been very happy with it. Less expensive than the Landlord Locks, and they don't require any extra parts/costs to re-key. I can re-key an entire house in under one minute. Doesn't get any easier than that.

With those do you have master and contractor/handyman keys? I have one key and can access all of my houses.

The issue I have with Kwikset locks is that it's just too easy to break into.

Now nothing is 100% secure but it's much harder to pick a Schlage than a Kwikset, a Kwikset bump key cost $3 online.

The Kwikset smartkey system, according to many, can be broken into even easier with a cheap tool. Here is a youtube video on how to do that in 10 seconds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR-h64WwfW8

Defiant. If someone wants to break in they will. All i do ia change out the lock with a new defiant pack when a tenant leaves, leave the guts in the door. I have enough that i will actually rotate locks between places when changeover occurs

Originally posted by @Sam Leon :
The issue I have with Kwikset locks is that it's just too easy to break into.

Now nothing is 100% secure but it's much harder to pick a Schlage than a Kwikset, a Kwikset bump key cost $3 online.

The Kwikset smartkey system, according to many, can be broken into even easier with a cheap tool. Here is a youtube video on how to do that in 10 seconds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR-h64WwfW8

I actually have a pick kit and can pick most brand locks. I have picked Kwiksets, Schlages, Master Locks, Sentry safes, Kryptonite locks, and others. In fact, I doubt there is a lock in general production on any house that is not pickable if you know what you're doing and have the time to spend doing it.

The reality is though, most burglars do not pick locks. I have seen numerous burglaries and they all have always been accomplished with brute force (i.e. door kick, window break, etc).

So ultimately you should just buy whatever type of locking system best suits your individual needs - whether that be the Smart Key locks, the Landlord Locks, or something else.

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Kwikset smartlock was giving me problems. so now i just use defiant, cheapest stuff from HD. i love it, tenants wont know the difference.

the defiant's pro pack for 2 doors is $30. that's awesome.

when was the last time anyone asked, "what brand locks are those"? exactly!

Has the smart key from quickset ever reset on its own for you? I had one that I suddenly couldn't open on my own home and we had to reset the lock so I never pursued it for rentals. I think someone changed the keying by using an incorrect key and if the kids do it I figured it would happen with tenants too.

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

Do you any of you use a lockbox and what for? or do you give contractors a key.

I keep a couple old locks from changeouts that I put on any property that is going through a rehab. I don't want my tenant locks on a rehab and don't want my rehab locks on an apartment.

Rehabs: (including apartment rehabs) get an ugly old gold deadbolt and handleset and a lockbox. Funny thing is, I've never purchased a lockbox but have 3 of them. Two were left behind at purchases and one I found in an REO sitting on the counter with the knob attached. Obviously somebody forgot the code, so I took it and spent a few hours while on mute on conference calls just spinning the numbers til I got it.

Rentals: Get a brand new (or changed out) landlordlock set that is keyed to my master. They also offer common vestibule locks that will work with any key on the system which I put on all of my common doors.

I never have to look for a key or ask contractors/tenants to meet me me at a property. I also don't worry about contractors copying a key, because they rarely ever have access to a key that will actually open any door once a tenant moves in.

The key (pun intended) is to find a simple system and use it all the time. My system works great for me, but I arrived at it through a lot of trial and error over the years. I absolutely love having a master key though, it is a huge hassle messing with the janitor style key rings that most PMs/landlords have.

I use one of the wireless (uses cell phone technology and not phone lines) alarms I carry from house to house. I put one on front and back doors, one window, then I put a motion detector in a weird place (in one house I sat it on the stairs every night),,,,if someone gets in it alerts me and they call the police (I change the address when I move it from one to another project, I never have more than one going at a time.

I use the kwikset smartkey, I have heard they are easy to break into, but most break ins I have seen involve a door or window being kicked in

andy

It is true that to a professional thief they can bump or pick Baldwin, Schlage, Kwikset, Defiant etc...although I think Baldwin, Medeco, Schlage will be harder.

I once spoke to someone in auto security back in the days when we used THE CLUB (remember the club its a metal thingie that locks the steering wheel) and he told me the difference between a car with a club lock and without is about 7 to 8 seconds. To a professional thief the club means an extra 8 seconds of time that's all. However, the club was not an anti-theft device, it's more a deterrent. Unless you have the exact brand/model vehicle they want, chances are they will skip your car because the next one is 8 seconds quicker, and to non-professional thieves like kids and gangsters it's too much of a challenge.

So I don't know if a higher end more secured lock does anything at all. May be, may be not. May be a "BEWARE OF NASTY DOG" sign is more effective LOL.

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :
Has the smart key from quickset ever reset on its own for you? I had one that I suddenly couldn't open on my own home and we had to reset the lock so I never pursued it for rentals. I think someone changed the keying by using an incorrect key and if the kids do it I figured it would happen with tenants too.

This is the issue I was having with mine. My wifes key still worked fine but for some reason mine suddenly stopped working.

@Sam Leon - I'm not so sure that Baldwin is "the good stuff". After all, they have SmartKey:

http://www.baldwinhardware.com/Products/Compare-Portfolios/Prestige/SmartKeyReKeyTechnology.aspx

And Kwikset and Baldwin both have the same parent company, so I would not be surprised if they share more in the way of lock technology.

On every vacant property I have a lockbox. And I change out the normal single cylinder deadbolts in favor of double cylinder deadbolts when a building is vacant; in many jurisdictions it's a code violation when the building is occupied to have double cylinder deadbolts, but when vacant I'm not worried about that. The lockbox is useful for so many reasons that I just won't elaborate, and you can buy one at the big box stores for under $40 so not that big of an expense; you can order cheap lockboxes online for a lot less than that.

Kwikset here as well. I have some old combination lock boxes, a lockbox is hidden.

On glass sliding doors I put an "L" bracket, in the bottom track when vacant. A piece of flat stock aluminum slides in above the door in the frame, that prevents the door from being raised and popped out of the track.

Windows get the L bracket in the tracks, double hung. Second story the brackets are used as stops, otherwise drunk college kids get out on the roof to sun bath. Defeats the purpose of fire code requirements but they can bust the window out in an emergency and are told to do so. Besides, have fire extinguishers on each floor, insurance agent liked that, not code here.

Is anyone using the new remote control type locks, those are pretty handy, use your phone and unlock gates, doors, driveway barrier ?? :)