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Property Management Blog

New Keyless Smart Locks

Todd Ortscheid - Monday, August 6, 2018

Video Transcript:

Hi. Todd Ortscheid here with GTL Real Estate. This week, talking about a new product that we're starting to put on our vacant properties that we think is going to save our owner-clients quite a bit of money, make things easier for our tenants, make it easier to rent the properties out, which obviously will get you better revenue and reduce your losses from vacancy periods. So we think this is a good, new program all around. It will even benefit you, as the property owner, even if you stop renting the property. This will be something good for you.

Basically, what it all centers around is lock changes. We always have to change the locks at a property between tenants or when the property just starts being rented out because the tenant has to have an expectation of safety and privacy. So we can't have keys floating around out there, even from the property owner, where somebody else can get in the property while they're living there. The only keys that there are for the property has to be the keys that the tenant has and the keys that we have in our office that are in a locked cabinet in a locked room with a keypad entry. It's basically impossible for anybody to get to those keys, except for our staff and our approved vendors who have to schedule that ahead of time so we know who it is.

As I said, there's a keypad when someone goes into that room, so we know who it was that took the keys. It's all a very important thing for the security of the tenant and their expectation of privacy, and obviously reducing your liability and ours, of course, in case the tenant was to claim that someone came into their house and stole something or sexually harassed them. There are all sorts of things that go on out there that you want to make sure that you protect yourselves against. So one of the ways we do that is making sure that there aren't extra keys floating around.

So we have to change those locks. Of course, that's a very expensive thing to do if you're constantly changing locks to your property. That starts to add up, especially if your property, you happen to be getting a new tenant every year just because of where your property is or the condition it's in or whatever the case may be. If you're getting new tenants every year, you're changing those locks every single year, and that's eating into your first month's rent every single time you get a new tenant. So if there's a way to eliminate that expense, that'll save you, as the landlord, a lot of money in the long run.

A lot of you have probably heard of smart locks. These are basically internet-connected locks that you can change the code on or unlock at any time. Up until now, you have to have those locks connected to WiFi, to the local internet at your house, so it wasn't really possible to do anything with smart locks at a rental property because there's no internet there while a tenant isn't occupying the property, or if the power is disconnected for some reason, if a tenant abandons a property or something like that. So, we weren't able to use smart locks before.

Thankfully, that's now been fixed. Now, companies are starting to produce smart locks that are Bluetooth enabled. The lock is able to be used even when a tenant isn't occupying the property, even when there's no internet service connected to the house, the lock can still be accessed via Bluetooth. So what we're going to do is start using these when we do lock changes at houses. Here is one of the locks, right here. You can't see it very well, but basically, down here is the lock cylinder and there's a keypad up here where the tenant can punch in the code, or the person, the vendor, who wants to get into the house, or our staff. Whoever it may be. Or, later on when you move back into the house, if that's what you do, then this will still be there for you. You can just punch in your code and get into the property without a key.

The reason this is so beneficial to you as a landlord is, the code on this can be changed at any time. So we don't have to hand out a physical key. We still have a physical key in our office, behind lock and key of course, just like the current ones. It's a master key that we can use. But as far as the tenants, there are no keys floating around out there. We're not handing out a key to the tenant when they move into the house. Instead what we're doing is, we're assigning them a code, or they can select a code. They can also use an app on their phone.

The beauty of Bluetooth is that just like many of you probably have keyless entry cars where, when you walk up to your car, it just automatically unlocks because it senses the key in your pocket. This will basically work the same way. If a tenant installs the app and pays the, I believe it's $2 a month for the service, then they never have to use a key. If they've got the Bluetooth app on their phone, they just walk up to their front door and it will unlock for them.

The other benefit of these locks is they are automatic locking. So, there is a sensor that is attached to the side of the door that senses when the door has been closed after it's been opened. When that happens, it waits about 30 seconds, and then it automatically locks. So it's great for security, it's great for showing the property. When your property is vacant, if someone views the property, and let's say a real estate agent goes out and shows that property, a lot of times, frankly they forget to lock the front door. Not our agents, of course. We're very careful about this, but frequently if another agent from another brokerage is not used to showing property, doesn't do a whole lot of real estate work, they might forget that front door, and then your property is just open for anybody to walk in.

This solves that problem because it will lock itself as soon as that door is closed after a few seconds. So it automatically locks. The real benefit of this, of course, is you're not paying for lock changes anymore. So what will that save you? The average lock change right now is costing about $150, so obviously, the first one of these is going to cost more, because the lock, itself costs about $150. So what you'll pay is for that, plus the service of the locksmith to install the lock. But then that's it basically forever. The only thing you'll have to do after that point is to replace the batteries, which your tenant will be doing most of the time when it's occupied. So it eliminates the problem of lock changes.

Now, when the property switches over from one tenant to another, we just log into the computer or even on our phone while we're out at the house, change the code to a new code for the new tenant, and now the old tenant isn't able to access the property anymore. So it eliminates all of your future cost for lock changes. So it basically saves you $150 on every tenant turnover from now on. So it's a big saver for you in the long run, just a little bit of extra money on the front end to buy the actual Bluetooth lock that has to be installed. But after that, no more lock changes, so it's a big benefit for you as the landlord.

It's also a big benefit as far as getting the property rented. It's something we can advertise. We can tell people the house has smart locks. Tenants love that, especially younger tenants. Millennials come to appreciate the convenience. They don't like to have to deal with keys or anything else. If they can just walk up to their door and it opens, that's a selling point. So being technologically advanced, it's helped us a lot with our automated lock boxes, it's helped us rent properties much quicker. Now, with the automated Bluetooth locks actually installed in the doors, we think we'll even make that even better.

So, that's going to be a big improvement. We think a lot of you will save some money and get shorter turnover times on your properties. So, this will be going live, but we're not going to install it in every property all at once. What we're going to do is install them as the properties become vacant, or as we add new properties. So when we take on a new property, it will get this lock. Or, if we have a turnover where there's a vacancy between tenants, we'll install these locks at that point, when we have to change the locks anyway. So it'll take a few years before every property we manage actually has these locks on, but whenever your property is vacant, that's when that'll get taken care of, and we think this will be a big improvement for everybody.

If you have any questions about this, please just send us an email. Support@gtlrealestate.com is always how you can reach us. We'll be happy to answer any questions about it. Thanks.

GTL Real Estate
120 Village Circle
Senoia, 30276

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