As multifamily property managers know, security and convenience are two of the most important factors when it comes to access control. On the one hand, residents want to feel safe and secure in their homes, while on the other hand, they want to be able to enter and exit the building with ease. Striking the right balance between these two factors can be a challenge, but with the right strategies and technologies, it is possible to provide residents with both the security and convenience they expect.
Here are some areas of best practice for property managers to consider when it comes to balancing the security and convenience of access control in multifamily properties.
Implement a multi-layered approach to security
One of the most effective ways to ensure the security of a multifamily property is to implement a multi-layered approach. This means using a combination of different security measures to create a more robust overall security system. For example, in addition to traditional keycard access, properties can also incorporate integrated systems which feature built-in cameras, such as the Vision and Vision Elite from Lockly, integrated intercom systems, as found in Lockly’s Ingress series of access control products or manned security desks. By using multiple layers of security, property managers can ensure that residents are able to verify the identity of visitors before granting them access to the property and to record visitor activities, even when away from the home.
Use a mobile app for access control
One of the most convenient ways to provide access control to residents is via a mobile app. Residents can use their smartphones to unlock doors, gain entry to the building, and even grant access to guests — whether they are present themselves or not. This eliminates the need for physical keycards or fobs and provides a more seamless experience for residents. Mobile app access can be easily managed and monitored by property managers, allowing them to quickly respond to any potential security issues, revoking access if needed.
For example, the Lockly Pro commercial app is a dedicated app for property managers to monitor and grant access to residents and visitors through their smartphones. It has unique built-in features including e-codes and e-badges that can generate access codes for guests or trusted visitors such as delivery staff or tradespeople.
Implement visitor management systems
Managing visitors to a multifamily property presents different challenges than managing resident access. In the case of guests visiting a resident at the property, it may be necessary to verify their identity and check with the resident before allowing access, for example using a camera or intercom system. For temporary visitors like contractors, delivery drivers, or dog walkers, it may be preferable to grant time-limited access — either on a one-off or recurring basis.
Keycard or smartphone app based access control systems are increasingly replacing the traditional sign-in/sign-out sheet, as they can be centrally managed to allow temporary access at specific times and to specific zones. If a visitor has not left the property when expected, security staff can be alerted to investigate. Locky O/S is an example of a centralized system that provides property managers with a complete audit trail of all visitors and what access was granted to each one, updated in real time.
Conduct regular security audits
In order to maintain a secure property, it is important to conduct regular security audits. These should include a review of all access control systems, security cameras, and other security devices and measures. Additionally, property managers should assess the overall security of the property, including lighting, landscaping, and other physical features that can impact security. By conducting regular security audits, property managers can identify potential vulnerabilities and take steps to address them before they become a problem.
Ensure clear communication with residents
Effective communication is key when it comes to balancing security and convenience. Property managers should clearly communicate all security policies and procedures to residents, including how to use access control systems and what to do in the event of a security issue and provide regular updates on any changes to security measures or procedures. As well as keeping residents informed, property managers should also take the time to listen to residents’ concerns — either by circulating feedback forms or holding regular meetings, in order to ensure that the security systems in place meet their needs and expectations.
Consider the resident experience
It’s important to look at all security measures from the resident’s point of view. Security measures that are too lax introduce risk, but if measures are too stringent, there’s also a risk that residents will ignore them, which also creates risk. Property managers should strive to create as user-friendly a system as possible, which can include using mobile access, providing clear signage, and ensuring that access control systems are easy to understand. By taking the resident experience into account, property managers can ensure that residents support the measures in place, feel safe and secure, and enjoy the convenience of easy access to their homes.