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There’s a saying, “you get what you pay for,” which rings true when it comes to a building facility’s locks and keys.  When thinking about security, with regard to locks and keys in particular, Property Owners and Property Management need to survey each property carefully, to determine what level of liability exposure and security a property has, before deciding on the best lock and key system. The following is a summary of three basic fundamental levels of security exposure for commercial or non-residential properties.

Generic Security

For overall security of a building, there’s a “generic” approach. This is most common for buildings and/or units that areleased to tenants who assume their own liability. This approach is best for keeping honest people out and is the least expensive, with regard to cost.

With this type of system:

  • There are no key control requirements – meaning each tenant is responsible for who does and does not have a key.
  • Key duplication is available at builder outlets and corner stores – so there’s less control over who can duplicate keys.
  • Hardware locksets and latches can be drilled off, or are easily manipulated.

Perimeter Security

The next level up, with regard to security, is a perimeter approach. The Property Management company and the property owner typically perform a survey of the property with a security system vendor, who maps out a master key system for management, tenants, utilities and service venders.

Some of the advantages and details are:   

  • Each building or unit has set operating hours – that is, times they can be accessed, controlled by perimeter access doors.
  • Perimeter access doors have restricted security locks with restricted keys. These restricted keys are only available from licensed security locksmiths, and keys cannot be duplicated without the registered client’s authorization. This method of key control has been proven to be very successful for this added level of security.
  • Restricted keys are numbered and assigned to tenants for accountability. Typically, each tenant signs a waiver for a replacement key, if theirs is lost or not returned. And there’s an added cost (approx. $100) for each replacement.
  • Hardware locksets and latches are manipulation, drill, and pick resistant.
  • This added security adds value to the property, and its uses can be expanded to include telephone rooms, washrooms, stairwells and utility rooms.

Higher-Level Security

This is high level of security for a property is the most advanced; typically, it’s networked or tied into other security products and systems, in addition to door hardware. Examples of these other types of security measures includesurveillance, biometrics, infrared devices, and other systems. These locksets and keys are often used in banks, financial facilities, sensitive manufacturing, government, and security institutions.

These are also available to homeowners and general businesses for additional home security, giving greater peace of mind with a higher expense.

Features of these types of security systems include:

  • Most of these keys have special features such as laser cut side bars, mixed angle biting cuts, and built-in circuits or transponders, allowing for multiple high security audit trails and access control applications.
  • The hardware products are manufactured with high strength metals, drill and tamper proof cylinders, and specialty keys. For this reason, hardware is a high end expense for these quality products and their installation.


If you need to balance the need for better security on your property with a desire to keep costs low, a high security door lock system may be the best choice. As detailed above, there are many benefits to installing this kind of system in your property, including affordable maintenance costs, greater convenience, and enhanced security. Typically, the locks are only as good as the door they are on or the building they are in.

Security should start when a building is in the design stage, on paper. This is when security is best addressed, and you will receive the best value for all your security applications. If you’re dealing with an existing structure of property, use the guidelines listed above and consult with a Property Management company to make the best choice.   ​


About the Author

Fairman & Associates Property & Facility Management
Steven Mitchell

Steven Mitchell, a Licensed Community Association Manager, joined Fairman & Associates, Inc. as a Property Manager in 2014. He has worked in construction management & property management industry for twenty years. He is currently managing Broward and Palm Beach portfolios and works closely with his Boards of Directors, property owners and tenants to ensure efficient management and maintenance of the properties.