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Published on
October 22nd, 2020

Landlord’s Guide to Smart Locks for Apartments

Owners and managers of apartment buildings in New York City know that tenants these days love high tech devices and smart apartment technology that make living easier. Here’s our guide to smart locks for apartments. Read on and learn more so you can put this handy security feature to use in your property.

What Are Smart Locks?

Keyless entry

Smart locks are a relatively new keyless entry system that can be installed on virtually any kind of door. Rather than using a conventional key to open the door, you enter a code on a keypad, use a fingerprint, or permit entry on a corresponding app on your mobile phone. Some even allow voice commands or work in conjunction with a door camera, so users can see who is at the door before activating the “open” command. As you might imagine, these systems rely on Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity to function.

Why Are Smart Locks Beneficial?

Good for tenants and landlords

This type of keyless entry works beautifully for both tenants and landlords. Renters won’t have to worry about forgetting their keys or locking themselves out. Entry can easily be granted to landlords, property managers, real estate agents, childcare providers, in-home workers, dog walkers, caterers, and delivery people.

However, the code can be changed as often as one needs, so there’s no concern about keys being in the hands of someone who no longer requires them. And, when a unit changes over, there’s no need to pay a locksmith to rekey the apartment. In this way, smart locks can be a big money saver.

What Should You Look for in a Smart Lock?

Different than single-family home locks

Smart locks for apartment buildings are a little different than those used in single-family dwellings, although the main concept is still the same. First, you want to make sure to use models that allow for the temporary digital keys as described above. Not only is this easier for tenants, but it also ensures property managers and superintendents can always enter in an emergency without fumbling around for a physical key.

Usually, locks used in apartment buildings, versus single-family homes, offer multiple permission levels. Building management and owners are at one level, residents are at another, and third-party users are at another. This makes these locks a little more complex but more customizable than basic models.

Another way apartment smart locks typically differ is that they integrate seamlessly with the building access system. For example, if a tenant’s dog walker needs to unlock the client’s apartment, they also need entry to the building at the lobby level to come and go. The right system allows them access to both the building and the individual unit without a conventional key.

As you are certainly aware, fire codes are much more stringent for apartment buildings than for single-family homes. Therefore, smart locks need to meet New York City fire code ratings for safety. The lock must be able to resist fire for a certain amount of time to allow tenants, building personnel, and emergency workers egress and access.

What Are Some Tips for Installing Smart Locks?

Pro expertise

At Bolt Electric, we’ve installed smart locks for our clients, and we’re happy to offer pro tips to make their use more efficient and successful for you.

  1. Price is not always indicative of quality or ease of use. It pays to shop around, read reviews, and consult with experts to see which smart lock system is best for your unique needs.
  2. Some locks can be retrofitted to the existing deadbolt to cut installation time and expense. These are worth checking out if you are happy with your current deadbolts.
  3. Most often, it’s best to choose a smart lock that operates on long-life battery power and not electrical wiring. This makes installation much simpler.
  4. There are models that also include door sensors to let users know if a door is open or closed. Some tenants, like seniors or people with young children, might appreciate this feature.
  5. Look for locks that resist picking, with no keyholes. A good lock should be able to withstand hundreds of pounds of force as well.
  6. Some locks work with home hubs for heat, window treatments, etc., and others are compatible with devices like Alexa, Google Nest, or Apple HomeKit. While this isn’t essential, it may be a selling point with more discerning tenants who expect this type of convenience.
  7. Be sure tenants understand your rules regarding the use of smart locks. Go over the process for changing codes, allowing third parties to enter, and the like. Reassure them that the same permission is needed for you to enter as with a conventional lock.

Need more information or help with installing smart locks in your building? Call Bolt Electric at 212-434-0098 or use our handy online form to schedule an appointment. We can help you make your apartments both more secure and easier to enter for you and your tenants.

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