Landlord Locks System Reduces Costs

3 min read
If you want to increase cash flow you can either increase the rent or reduce costs. Rent is actually fairly inflexible since it is determined by the market. Reducing expenses is frequently the quickest and easiest way of increasing return. One such expense that can be reduced is tenant turn cost.

When the tenant vacates the property part of the turn cost is to rekey the property if only for liability reasons. Rekeying each lock costs about $65. How many locks are there on a typical property?

  • Front door: Typically 1 deadbolt, 1 thumb lock - 2 locks

  • Security door: If there is a security door, then there is likely 1 deadbolt, 1 thumb lock - 2 locks

  • Door to garage: Typically 1 deadbolt, 1 thumb lock - 2 locks

So, the number of locks that have to be rekeyed ranges from 2 to 6 locks. At $65/lock, the rekey cost is between $130 and $390 per tenant turn. On houses with a door from the garage to the outside, add two more locks so your cost would then be $520.

Also, if there is a digital keypad for the garage door, add another $60 for reprogramming the pad. Of course, the garage remotes must also be reprogrammed and that is $50.

To reduce this cost, we are now implementing the Landlord Locks system on new properties. Current properties can be upgraded as well when the tenants turn.

Landlord Locks

Landlord Locks has a system that enables the property manager to swap out the core (the part that actually takes the key) quickly and easily, eliminating the cost of rekeys by a locksmith. Here is a link to a video demonstrating the landlord lock rekeying process. Below is an illustration of the Landlord Locks system.

So instead of needing a locksmith to rekey the lock, the property manager just swaps out the lock core. But, we go further. Exterior doors only need a single deadbolt. So, we replace thumb locks with pass knobs, and pull latches with a deadbolt and a pass knob set as illustrated below. Note that when we do swap out the locks, the front door normally needs to be repainted which costs about $100.

This system avoids another problem, which fortunately does not occur too frequently to our properties. Tenants will sometimes make many copies of the keys and pass them to friends, etc. This increases the likelihood of damage and other problems. Normal keys have 6 pins and can be reproduced anywhere. The Landlord Locks have 7 pins and are very hard to duplicate.

To prevent the tenant simply remove the Landlord Lock and put their own lock on the door. If this occurs, the landlord has no access. We use special screws (also from Landlord Locks) that prevent tenants from removing the Landlord Lock or the pass knobs. See the image below. The bit required to remove the screws is only available from Landlord Locks.

In addition, we remove all digital keypads like the one below. These are not needed. This further reduces turn cost.

This approach also virtually eliminates one more potential cost, tenants accidentally locking themselves out of the property. When this occurs the tenant will either break a window or call a locksmith, who will likely drill out the core and rekey the lock. When this occurs, the property manager no longer has access to the property. With only a deadbolt, the tenant must lock the door from the outside using the key.

How much does the Landlord Locks system cost? Not much more than standard locks. Below is the cost including installation.

  • Landlord lock deadbolt: $80
  • Pass knob: $50
  • Repaint a door: $100

Note that the "footprint" of the landlord lock is unlikely to match the footprint of the lock removed. This almost always results in needing to repaint the front door which is $100.

Summary

We continue to look for ways to reduce your operating costs and the Landlord Locks system is an easy change. When is the best time to swap out locks? On your next tenant change, which hopefully is not too soon.