February 20, 2023
Best Practices on Access Control in Vacation Rental Properties
Access control is how your guests and managers securely access rental properties. It also helps regulate unauthorized access to the property. The three main factors for any access control design are:
- Security: The guest and their belongings are safe within the property when it is properly locked.
- Ease of access: Guests and managers find it easy to access and lock the property.
- Redundancy: When guests lose a key or keycard, there should be a fallback mechanism to regain access to the property.
These three factors often pull in different directions. When there is redundancy in the access control system, it is inherently less secure. Easier access often means lower security. More robust locking mechanisms are generally more difficult to access and do not have redundancy. This all changed with the introduction of new access control technology.
Moving Forward with Technology
Traditional mechanical locks and key mechanisms are cumbersome to manage because they involve taking care of a bunch of keys, master keys, and locks. Replacing a lock requires changing the whole mechanism on the door. Keycard mechanisms are now the new standard for access control because they’re easier to manage and scale. The problem with only using keycard locks is that users are able to share their card with other people.
Modern access control mechanisms use new technology like NFC, biometrics, etc. This identity detection software plays an important role in modern systems. The new technology shifted the focus to how the access control system is implemented, rather than the specific mechanism used. A smart access control system decreases the incidence of security-related headaches and provides a pleasant experience for your guests. If you are still using mechanical lock and key systems, you should consider implementing technology-forward solutions.
As mentioned earlier, how access control systems are implemented matters more than the specific mechanism used. It’s a good idea to follow some of the best practices in the industry to secure your property. The following sections cover them in detail.
If your business manages multiple sites, it’s best to implement uniformity across your access control systems. If you are using key cards in Property A, NFC for Property B, and mechanical locks for Property C, it becomes complex to manage the different systems. You will have to manage three separate systems simultaneously. The ideal way is to adopt a single access control system for all properties and doors. This is easier to manage and will also result in lower costs when scaling your system. Maintenance also becomes easier when you only have to service one type of mechanism.
Modern smart locks need to be connected to a communication network to exchange information with the central server. You can choose between wired and wireless network solutions. When properties are clustered together, wireless solutions work well. When your properties have some distance between them, it is better to opt for a structured cabling solution. You can bundle it together with telephone connections and internet connectivity to lower costs. It is better to have a separate network for security purposes, but you will have to incur a higher cost. Depending on your requirements, you can choose one method over the other.
Choose an access control software that allows you to monitor your property. Monitoring helps prevent security issues before they happen or allows real-time response when an incident does occur. Digital monitoring tools help reduce the reliance on physical monitoring. If your security monitoring software integrates access control with your surveillance system, you can record the incident on site and get real time notifications to your phone, tablet or computer. This streamlines and strengthens the security process at your facilities.
Logging and Alerts
You can keep a log of the activities on your property with a software suite. It can record the time and location each user presented their credential and whether or not they were allowed access.. It’s recommended that you keep a log of all the activities. When an incident does occur, you’ll be able to audit the logs, pinpoint the events and identify the root cause of the security incident.
In addition to logging, you can set up alerts to notify the right people in your organization. In the software, you can set up parameters for a potential security incident. When these parameters are observed, email, SMS, or other alert messages are sent to notify security personnel. This helps you to react quickly to any security problem.
The major downside of using an all-in-one security solution is its centralized nature. Digital systems are also vulnerable to cyberattacks. The software controls all aspects of access control and security. If the central server or the software is compromised, the physical security of your properties is also in jeopardy. To prevent such incidents, you need to have strong identity management in place. You should strictly limit the people who have the authorization and access to the software that control your access control systems. You need to have strong passwords and multi-factor authentication in place to nullify unauthorized access to digital systems. Assign privileges to different users according to their roles and trust levels. You also need to perform security audits on your digital systems to identify ghost accounts. Having a strong cybersecurity protocol in place to prevent cyberattacks will benefit your organization in the long run.
The Trust Factor
Guests residing in your properties implicitly trust you with their safety and belongings. You should take every step necessary to provide the highest level of security possible. Modern access control systems are the best way to go as they are easy to manage and your tenants will find them easy to use. But such systems also open up many vulnerabilities you need to be wary of. Follow the industry’s best practices to protect your properties. You should also rely on experienced and trusted vendors to install access control systems on your property. A breach of trust is disastrous for your business and you need to take every precaution to prevent that from happening.
Patrick Chown is the owner and president of the business security systems installation company, Safe and Sound Security. Safe and Sound Security specializes in integrating security cameras, access control, burglar alarms, and structured cabling for industrial and commercial facilities.