How Smart Locks Maximize Residential Security for Multi-family Apartments

A person using a Lockly App for improved residential security.

Multi-family buildings account for over 30% of all housing in the United States and 39% of rental stock. Inevitably, wherever there are large numbers of tenants, there’s an opportunity for unwelcome elements to seek access. In fact, multi-family apartments have an 85% greater chance of being burgled than single-family homes. 

There’s no reason for multi-family units to enjoy lower levels of residential security, however. Tenants want to feel safe and property owners shouldn’t have to allow criminals to compromise the value of their investment. An affordable, easy-to-install solution is smart locks, which improve security, streamline access management, and make it simple to track and monitor entry activity. 

How Smart Locks Improve Security

Visit the typical multi-family apartment building and you’ll usually find that the main entrance to the foyer is “secured” with a single entry code, with keyed access to individual apartments. The vulnerability of this set-up is that entry codes soon become common knowledge — even the marks on the keypad are a giveaway — and unless locks are changed with each tenant rotation, there could be several copies of an apartment’s keys in circulation. 

Smart locks, on the other hand, secure the access points. With Lockly smart locks, access is personalized via a biometric fingerprint, or hack-proof PIN Genie keypad that shuffles the numbers. Each lock feeds back data to the owner/operator of the building so that they have a stored record of who used the lock and when, or video footage of anyone who’s entered or exited. 

Lockly offers both network-/Wi-Fi-connected and Bluetooth-enabled smart locks and next-generation HD Video Doorbell smart locks for multi-family buildings. 

Key Residential Security Tips

With a caveat that locks alone cannot secure a community — there’s no substitute for an engaged, vigilant residents’ association — they provide a visible signal that security is a priority. Get the most out of the available features by following these tips. 

  1. Access control management

Tenants are not the only ones entering a building. There will also be delivery and maintenance staff, authorized visitors, care workers, and prospective tenants. Professional criminals can easily find out the access code by shoulder-surfing or posing as a delivery worker, and go on to share the code with their network. 

With a Lockly smart lock in the foyer, each person can be assigned a unique access code or eBadge to gain entry, even on a one-time basis. That code leaves a digital trail, too, so if a burglary occurs, the building owner can see exactly who was authorized to access during the relevant time frame. 

Whereas a standard keypad is “always on” (or not working at all!) smart keypads can be programmed with time-based access restrictions. For example, access could be set to tenants only after dark or during weekends. 

With Lockly, access can also be revoked for individual tenants (for example at the termination of a lease) without changing the code for everyone. 

  1. Monitoring and surveillance

While the better-managed multi-family apartments will have CCTV surveillance for the entrance, foyer and hallways, monitoring and video storage are rarely maintained to a sufficient degree. With a smart video doorbell, or smart lock integrated with security cameras, such as Lockly Vision Elite, video can be triggered whenever someone rings the doorbell or  approaches the doorway area, and footage either streamed live or stored for safekeeping. 

It’s not just about recording what happened, either. A video doorbell smart lock also allows live interaction with visitors, so tenants or building managers can see, speak to and “buzz in” whoever is authorized to enter. Anyone could claim to be a delivery worker in need of a signature, but with a smart video smart lock, you can see the face behind the voice and request further credentials as necessary. 

  1. Enhanced authentication methods

Today’s smart locks offer an unparalleled level of security through biometric identification. With Lockly smart locks such as the Secure Plus smart lock, Tenants (or trusted guests) simply have to scan their fingerprints on the 3D biometric fingerprint sensor to unlock the door, so there’s no key to be copied (or lost) or regular code to be spied on. 

  1. Remote access and control

Unless your building has a 24-hour concierge service, there’s no one to monitor access in the foyer. With a Lockly smart lock, however, every lock owner has a dedicated concierge “in their pocket”. That functionality is provided by the linked mobile app, with which you can lock or unlock any connected entrance remotely, as well as receive real-time alerts on lock activity. 

So if you’re sleeping alone in the house, out to work, or away on vacation, you’re still in full control of your secure entrance.

  1. Maintenance and regular updates

A smart lock is an evolving piece of technology, which is why it’s important to keep firmware updated with the latest security patches to stay ahead of hackers. While some locks are fitted with solar power panels for sustainable energy, such as Lockly Vision Elite, you should also monitor battery life and replace batteries promptly (especially if you’re going away) to ensure no lapses in performance. 

Factors to Consider when Choosing Smart Locks for Multi-family Apartments

With rare exceptions, if a building already has a keypad entry at the main entrance, it should be straightforward to upgrade to a smart lock. The main challenge is in clearly communicating to all tenants about how to make use of the additional functions, troubleshoot, and contact the system supervisor. 

In general, smart locks are user-friendly both for the interface and the back end. You don’t need any specific technical skills to manage and monitor the system. Likewise, scaling the system by adding new devices or integrating with other smart devices is intuitive and simple to manage through the app. 

The more devices you add, however, the more important it is to stay up to date with security certifications and encryption protocols, as each device connected to the network is a potential vulnerability that hackers could exploit. 

Common Concerns and Misconceptions about Smart Locks

If you’re a building owner about to upgrade your tenants to smart locks, they may have concerns to address. Bust these common myths and overcome misconceptions by educating them on the following:

  • Are smart locks secure? The next-generation locks featured by Lockly meet the most rigorous industry security standards. All data is fully encrypted and stored on secure AWS servers. 

  • How reliable are Lockly smart locks? Your Lockly smart lock will always work with a physical key in case the network malfunctions. They’re robust enough for multi-family apartments in most US climate conditions too. Some Lockly locks can handle temperatures between -4℉ to 140℉. 

  • What about power outages and backups? The battery in your smart lock will typically last 9-12 months on average. If a battery is completely drained - or there is a sustained power outage - you can still operate your lock with a 9v battery or physical key. 

  • Lockly Exceeds Your Residential Security Needs

    Only Lockly offers patented PIN Genie technology as part of the world’s most advanced smart locks. Our locks are fully certified to the highest standards and your data is supported by the most rigorous safety protocols. 

    When you install Lockly smart locks in your building, you’re showing your tenants that you’re committed to protecting their residential safety. You’re also sending a warning to potential troublemakers that there’s nowhere to hide, and no weakness to exploit. 

    To join the next generation of smart locks for multi-family apartments today, check out our full range of Smart Locks, including the HD Video Doorbells Smart Locks, and other accessories here