SOLVING THE LANDLORDS’ DILEMMA
About twenty years ago, one of my friends came to see me in the shop for a bit of advice. He told me he’d bought a large house that had been converted for student accommodation, and wanted to find the cheapest way to give all his tenants their own keys, while having access to each room if necessary.
He’d visited a DIY store for plumbing parts for the house, and while he was there, he’d had a quick look at the locks, pricing up basic Yale locks for the room doors. He’d noticed that they were selling some deadlocks at even less than the Yale locks. He asked me if they were any good for his purposes, and if not, what did I think he should do.
At this point, I should make it clear that, as we sold a full range of locks, I didn’t want my friend to buy his locks from somewhere else, but I did want to offer him a better deal. He was hoping to spend as little money as he could after dishing out a small fortune on all the bits and pieces for the house conversion. However, there were other issues to be taken into account.
“So”, I asked him, “if there was a fire in the house, how would your students escape?” He told me they would have to go down the stairs to the main front door.
“Right, but how do they get out of their rooms?”, I asked. “If you have deadlocks on their doors, they’ll lock themselves in. What if, in the panic, they can’t find their keys to get out?”
I was taking into account the fire regulations for multiple occupancy dwellings that existed some years ago. The letter of the law has changed, but the spirit of the law is the same now as it was then. People panic in emergency situations. Under ideal circumstances, they should be able to go from their bed to the street outside without having to stop for anything - even keys. At the same time, nobody should be able to go the other way, from the street to their beds, without keys.
I told him I was aware that he wanted to keep the cost down, but that some compromise was necessary. Some years ago, the interpretation of fire regulations was up to individual fire officers who would inspect and offer their opinion. That is no longer the case, and the guidelines are clear. In multiple occupancy dwellings, tenants have to be able to get out WITHOUT a key.
Anybody who enjoys a Saturday night out will know that a few drinks can lead to lost keys. Sometimes, we get calls from those who are locked out of their homes. However, we also get calls from those who have let themselves in, but cannot remember what they did with their keys. There are numerous occasions when people misplace their keys, and have to spend time looking for them. Most of the time, the keys will be found. However, the need to locate keys becomes a desperate race against time in the event of a fire.
The need to escape from fire has to be balanced with the need to protect yourself and your property from intruders. We can offer a range of locks that allow you to exit without a key, while not allowing you to enter unless you have a key. You can make an emergency exit, but nobody can walk in unless they have the right key.
My friend was presented with the ideal solution to his problem. He needed to be able to offer his tenants security, but didn’t want them to get trapped in an emergency. Also, he needed to have a cost effective way of gaining access to rooms under certain circumstances.
We fitted a suite of cylinder operated deadlocks with thumb turns on the inside. He had a master key for the range of locks, and every tenant’s key opened the communal front door. But if they’d been out for a few drinks and needed to escape the house in an emergency, they could open their room doors and the main door without the need of a key, and get out without delay.
We solved his problem at a price that was well within budget, and gave him a very satisfactory long-term solution. If he’d gone for the cheapest option of buying basic locks at a DIY store, he’d have had to have replaced them on numerous occasions, and upgrade to meet the fire regulations.
We still see him every now and again if one of his tenants needs a duplicate key, because his lock suite was made to last. Twenty years on, he is still very pleased with our solution, especially as it conforms with current regulations for landlords. Also, if one of his tenants leaves the house without their keys, he can let them back in with his master key.
It’s relatively simple to upgrade locks to conform with requirements for landlords without spending a small fortune. If you own a house, renting out to a number of tenants, we can help with security issues.