Code locks? - Update

24 Replies

Hello, technology changes so fast I thought I would ask about locks again. Anybody using a hot new technology for a code based lock? Thanks!

@Eric A. @lucas carl  we do the same, hasn't failed us yet. But we  did learn a good tip on a previous forum that we have  implented. We now have a lock box with a key inside attached to the gas meter, just in case the batteries fail. The renter can then contact us and we would send them the code for the box.

We still use the LockState lock.  Works great so far after 1.5 years.  As @Lisa Graesser mentioned, we also have a hide-a-key somewhere on the property in case of a larger failure.  We just change the batteries every few months as a good practice to minimize a potential issue.

I use a z-wave Schlage that is managed through alarm.com as it allows me to also set my security system code at the same time. I also like it because I can set the codes as temporary so they only work for a certain date/time window. That way I can setup my guests with different codes and it only works while they are there.

I also have a lock box outside with a physical key but we pretty much never have issues.

Originally posted by @Chai Xiong :

Hey @Sid Payne whats the upfront cost for alarm.com? i heard it controls ac and security

 You have to go through a dealer, I believe. I don't remember the exact cost but I think is is about $40 a month plus the hardware and install. I think I paid about $2,000 total for wiring and other components. It is all integrated with my thermostats, security system and air conditioning. The thermostats are through inthrma.com and if there is a door or window open, it shuts off the A/C. That is separate from Alarm.com which is the monitored security system and door codes.

I hope that makes sense. I can give you a lot more detail if you like.

I've got the Schlage Z-Wave Connect locks on my STRs and they are working well. Takes just a minute to set new codes and can easily create codes for maintenance/cleaning/delivery people and then see when they arrive.

I also put lockboxes at each property for the rare case where batteries may die or power is out.

You can get them on Amazon or on eBay and are often on sale. I think I ran about $120 each for the locks and another $60 for a Wink z-wave hub.

Originally posted by @Hubert H Byron III :
@Sid Payne what are negatives you’ve found using the alarm.com system?

I would say there are only a couple. You cannot import a calendar or anything like that so you have to enter each guest as a a temporary user, unless you just wanted to have a rotating set of codes. My guests each get a unique 4-digit code that only works while they are there.
Also, when entering those temporary users, the date picker is not smart enough to automatically make you choose a date/time after the beginning date/time. It may seem minor but when you have to enter a lot of people, it adds up to a lot more clicks.

I also don't like the fact that you have to go through a dealer. The guy who did the wiring and the security system and got me signed up with them is super unreliable. I want to stop using him. I am hoping the new guys I am trying will be better and they also do alarm.com. I am not referring to Sam and the inthrma system, he is the thermostat and that is awesome.

Other than those things, I like the system. Is has been reliable and I can manage all 4 properties from one login.
Let me know if I can answer any other questions for you,
Sid

@Sid Payne thanks for the additional detail - this is very helpful. Are the properties where you are using this type of alarm and lock system STRs or LTRs? This seems like a no brainer as the property owner but wonder how the tenants react to/feel about it. I can see it being less of a big deal for STRs doing airbnb because more convenient but could see some LT tenants being less enthusiastic. Thanks! Coy

@Eric A. and @Hubert H Byron III - I use a regular battery operated Kwickset #913 style lock on my SFH rental properties (all LTRs). My tenants, who are usually in their 20s-30s love them, because they dont worry about being locked out accidentally. I enter multiple codes just in case (one for tenant as primary as well as a tenant backup code and also my personal code so I can get in). My locks can also auto-lock after 30 seconds which tenants like so they dont have to worry about if they (or a visiting friend) forget to lock the house when leaving.

Overall very positive feedback from tenants about using these locks; I haven't had any issues

Originally posted by @Hubert H Byron III :
@Sid Payne thanks for the additional detail - this is very helpful.

Are the properties where you are using this type of alarm and lock system STRs or LTRs? This seems like a no brainer as the property owner but wonder how the tenants react to/feel about it. I can see it being less of a big deal for STRs doing airbnb because more convenient but could see some LT tenants being less enthusiastic.

Thanks!

Coy

These are all STRs. When I get some LTRs, I would probably put in smart locks but use z-wave instead as it is free after the equipment purchase. I would do that just for convenience and I would probably go with the Schlages. I have Yales at my house but they just chew through batteries too fast to recommend them. Someone needs to come up with a solar version with battery backup...

@Mike B. , @Sid Payne , @Chuck Kramer , @Richard Ibeh , @Mark S. , @Lisa Graesser , @Lucas Carl, with installing all this cool technology, are you able to charge a premium for rents? How has this helped things like your operating expense, net profit, tenant retention vs. competition, etc.? I am curious about what sort of benefits you've seen to the bottom-line/performance of your rentals. Thanks! 

Originally posted by @Hubert H Byron III :

@Mike B. , @Sid Payne , @Chuck Kramer , @Richard Ibeh , @Mark S. , @Lisa Graesser , @Lucas Carl, with installing all this cool technology, are you able to charge a premium for rents? How has this helped things like your operating expense, net profit, tenant retention vs. competition, etc.? I am curious about what sort of benefits you've seen to the bottom-line/performance of your rentals. Thanks! 

 The benefit is the guests let themselves in and I don’t have to be at my property. Which is 8 hours round trip. 

@hubert h byron III The cost of adding a keyless entry lock on your door that runs on a battery is only between $80-$100. The convenience it provides for me and my guests is invaluable. 

Originally posted by @Hubert H Byron III :

@Mike B. , @Sid Payne , @Chuck Kramer , @Richard Ibeh, @Mark S. , @Lisa Graesser , @Lucas Carl, with installing all this cool technology, are you able to charge a premium for rents? How has this helped things like your operating expense, net profit, tenant retention vs. competition, etc.? I am curious about what sort of benefits you've seen to the bottom-line/performance of your rentals. Thanks! 

 
Without getting too technical here:


1. Do Electronic Locks on average drive more revenue? No, guest typically don't know how they will enter your home until they pay 100% of the rent.

2. Operating expense - Mainly only wifi enabled locks have a monthly fee. Battery operated locks do not have a monthly fee (that I know of). 

3. Does it increase retention? No, customer service and maintaining your property as advertised does.

4. Competition? Whether you have a lockbox, meet them onsite or smart lock doesn't matter right now in this industry. Neither is a dealbreaker for most guest.

5. Benefits? As Lucas mentioned - Convenience.
You are not wasting time/gas driving back and forth to cut keys if a guest, housekeeper or maintenance misplaced it. It's also better security for your house because anyone can say they lost your key then enter next week if they assume it's vacant. (Most owners do not change their locks when someone reports a lost key).

**It also provides peace of mind which you can't put a price on.

Originally posted by @Hubert H Byron III :

@Mike B. , @Sid Payne, @Chuck Kramer , @Richard Ibeh , @Mark S. , @Lisa Graesser , @Lucas Carl, with installing all this cool technology, are you able to charge a premium for rents? How has this helped things like your operating expense, net profit, tenant retention vs. competition, etc.? I am curious about what sort of benefits you've seen to the bottom-line/performance of your rentals. Thanks! 

 As others have mentioned. There is a huge convenience factor. However, I would also add that with the system I use, I can set temporary codes or codes that only work at certain times.

Every one of my guests gets a different code that is specific to their stay. It only works for a couple of hours before and after checkin/checkout. I think this gives everyone more piece of mind. This code is also the one they use for the security system so same goes for that.

Because you can set permanent codes to only work at certain times of the day I can, for example, have a code for the pest control guy that only works from 8am to 6pm. This would prevent easy entry for someone who has that code after hours.

The system also allows me to lock, unlock, arm and disarm the system remotely as well as see which door or window someone might have left open. My A/C shuts off if a door or window is open for more than 3 minutes. I have had situations where a guest says the A/C is not working but that all windows and doors are closed. I can look and see which one they missed and they can close it without sending my property manager out.
Those are some of the basics but overall, I can't imagine remotely managing a property any other way.

Many covered the benefits of a keyless lock. With a smart lock, I am notified when a specific code is used so I know when housekeepers, Mai tenancy people, and even the guests are present. It also logs entries so if the pest guy bills me I can verify that he was indeed at the home and entered.

Plus, codes can be easily added and deleted so it’s not always the same code. Also prevents people from sharing codes for later ‘visits’.