There is no one lock that will address every concern you might have, but there is a lock that will work best for your particular rental property. To find the lock that you should use for your rental, make sure that you know what you are trying to prevent and how you could benefit from reducing the need to hand over keys and change locks.
Keep in mind that buying a lock is likely to be an investment. The cheaper the lock, the fewer perks you are buying. You should also know what you are paying for. When you spend your money, are you purchasing better convenience or stronger security? Even if you know what you want, make sure you know what you're getting.
Intended Level of Security
When you are buying locks for your rental property, you are going to see a lot of claims being made by the manufacturers. You should ignore most of the “Grade” and numeric security rating claims. If you want locks with good security, check to see they have drill resistance, pick resistance, and strong bolts that are resistant to cutting.
Just how strong your locks should be, and where their security should be focused, depend on the particulars of your renting intentions, the location of the home, your other security measures, etc. Be sure to consider the following to determine the level of security you should intend to achieve with your locks.
1. How long will the property be empty?
The longer your property is left vacant, the more at risk it will be. Whether you primarily have short term or long term rentals, the downtime between occupancy could be quite high. No matter how you intend to structure your rental, people should be in the home as much as possible. When someone is home, the chances of theft are reduced. In this case, your business goals security goals are likely to align.
If you are not looking to treat renting your property like a business, and would just like to rent while you are away, for security purposes, it is still best to limit the amount of downtime between your guest leaving and your return. But if you ever want to increase the number of guests you have, you can look into hiring a property management firm.
A property manager can also come to check on an empty property and respond to any security issues. This is tremendously important, as your door locks should ideally delay entry long enough for someone to intervene. The faster someone can respond, the less you need to focus on the security of your locks in particular.
2. What other security measures are you using?
The best security options for your rental will always include a deadbolt lock, but your front door’s security could be ignored by a burglar if they see an easier way in. Make sure that the security of your home isn’t compromised by any other glaring weaknesses. If you have done all you can to protect windows and document entry points with cameras, etc., you do not want your locks to be your weakest link.
A good lock needs to be installed on a good door with 3-inch set screws for the hinges and strike plate. Make sure that all exterior doors have solid cores, which make them stronger than the lighter hollow core doors used for interior purposes. If you do not have a solid security foundation, the security of your locks will mean very little.
3. What are you concerned about?
A lock is for keeping out uninvited individuals. If you cannot reliably prevent your renters from throwing parties, any security you have for your home will be undermined. From there, it is just a matter of what types of methods of entry criminals use in your area. Chances are you will not need to worry about lock picking, but any lock that is pick resistant will also be bump resistant. Lock bumping may be a concern for your area.
Most criminals are going to break in through the front door. Often, they are going to kick the door down. A quality lock will have enough metal content to secure the door from breaking under the stress of blunt force at the bore points where the lock is installed. You will be able to feel a high metal content in the weight of the lock hardware when compared to something like a cheap Kwikset deadbolt.
Benefits to Convenience
Convenience is more about peace of mind than it is about security, but sometimes security is not the primary focus property owners have with their locks. Access control is often one of the largest concerns when buying locks for rental homes, especially those with a high tenant turnover.
In the case of many smart locks that are available on the market today, they are replacing the thumbturn and not the deadbolt itself, so you can still get a secure lock cylinder to use along with a product made with convenience in mind. You might be able to get the best of both worlds, just decide which features suit your needs most directly.
1. Keyless Locks
If you are looking to use keypad door locks, you can avoid having any lock cylinder at all. This does have security benefits, but it is also ideal for convenience. Keypad door locks are available in either a digital or mechanical form. The digital locks are going to be more convenient to change the combinations, where you might benefit from having a locksmith to help you with a mechanical keypad combination change.
The largest issue you should anticipate with keyless locks that use keypads is that the combination can be given out easily. If you are looking to reduce the risk of illegal subletting or similar types of rental scams, consider not using combination door locks. It might be better to use smart locks, which might have a keyway, even though guests will only use a smart device to unlock the door.
2. Key Control
With home automation products such as smart locks, you do not necessarily need a keypad if you can ensure that your guests will have a WiFi or Bluetooth enabled device. You can send them “keys” remotely to their smart device, and remove this key when their stay is over. As long as you are familiar with the smart lock’s app, you can remove access in real time without ever calling someone to change the locks.
3. Remote Access
For true remote access to your locks, you need a smart lock that has a WiFi bridge (built-in or as the result of a secondary device). This will make remote check-ins much simpler because you can remotely open the lock if the guest is having an issue. If you are not informed as to when the guest arrived, you can receive information as to when the lock was used by which user.
Smart locks are a great way to know who is entering the home when. And the ability to open doors for cleaners, property managers, and guests, is perfect for reducing hassle and confusion. Just be sure that batteries are kept charged to avoid a home lockout that will be impossible to solve remotely.
Any property owner can conduct a risk assessment to find the number of threats facing their home, and the vulnerability they have to said threats. For maximum security, look for hardware that uses hardened steel and anti-drill plates. To reduce the risks of lock picking, use locks with security pins. For convenience and peace of mind, smart locks are your best option.