It’s in every landlord’s best interest to go above and beyond the demands of their insurance company and make sure their properties are more than adequately secured. But with a bewildering array of locks out there, it can be hard to make an informed decision as to how best to defend a building from forced entry. Here’s our quick and easy guide to all you need to know about door locks.
The humble cylinder lock, often referred to as a Yale lock, has become a familiar sight on front doors up and down the country. It’s simple, versatile, and can range from cheap and cheerful to advanced and heavy duty. Of particular interest to landlords is the ease with which the locks can be changed; you can loosen a screw and slide out the cylinder without having to mess around with the bolt work. There are many types of cylinder lock, so we’ve broken down the main types along with their weaknesses:
The standard cylinder lock is a beautifully simple design, but comes with a major weakness – it’s susceptible to snapping. All an intruder needs to do is correctly apply a bit bit of force and the cylinder will snap. It can be done incredibly quickly, as demonstrated in the video below.
Anti Snap Cylinder
The next step up from a standard cylinder lock is one with anti snap cuts. These deliberate weak points break when forced, sacrificing a small part of the cylinder without giving thieves access to the locking mechanism. But even these locks aren’t immune to slightly more advanced lock-breaking techniques such as bumping and drilling.
Bumping is the process of hammering an adapted key into the cylinder, while drilling is where a brazen intruder literally uses a drill. Bumping is a particular worry for landlords as it can leave few visible signs of damage, making insurance claims all the more complicated. Just look how easily a lock can be bumped by someone who knows what they’re doing.
High End Cylinders
Major cylinder lock manufacturers, such as Yale and UAP, offer various high end versions of the cylinder lock. They’re not perfect, but they offer some protection against drilling and bumping. These locks include clever pin positioning inside the lock to protect against bumping keys, and are made from hardened steel which gives some resistance to a drill.
The Mul-T-Lock is a brand of cylinder lock that solves one classic landlord problem – it is particularly difficult to cut copies of the keys due to their dimpled design. The Mul-T-Lock comes in a range of security levels, and is well worth considering, despite its slightly higher price point.
If you have a weakness for snazzy gadgets, there could be a temptation to shell out on some James Bond-type device such as an Anviz fingerprint scanner door lock, or Kiwickset’s Bluetooth enabled lock that lets you open the front door with a phone. But if you’re a fan of hi tech wizardry I have some bad news for you – all the reviews for these types of locks are universally terrible. Not to mention what happens when a tenant runs out of battery on their phone or has their finger cut off by the Mafia.
Sure, they look fun, and might be a unique selling point for your property, but they will leave it vulnerable. Don’t go there.
5 Lever Lock
Many insurers will insist on you using a 5 lever lock and for good reason – they are robust and much harder to force than a cylinder lock. The minimum standard insurers will expect you to use is BS3621; any 5 lever lock complying to this will be able to resist five minutes of attack from a drill or angle grinder. More expensive locks will be able to resist attack for longer, but you can’t go wrong with any decent 5 lever lock.
One extra thing you might like to consider is upgrading to a lock that can be opened from the inside without a key – this should give your tenants peace of mind if they ever need to evacuate in case of a fire.
Nightlatches range from the cheapest locks to some of the most expensive. We’ve listed two of the most common types below.
Yale Traditional Nightlatch
This lock is ubiquitous on front doors throughout the country, but they are simply insufficient for securing a front door on their own – especially in a city. While tenants might love them for their ease of use, criminals love them even more because they are extremely easy to force. If you are relying on one for your property’s security, you should immediately consider adding a 5 lever lock.
If you are a fan of the Nightlatch style of lock, there are plenty of much tougher ones than the basic Yale version available. Look for one with deadlocking, which means you can turn the key from the outside to lock the latch in place and prevent thieves from trying to slip the lock with a credit card or zip-ties. Again, if you buy one that meets BS3621 they will resist a moderate level of cutting and drilling.
Steel Security Door
If none of these locks quite cut the mustard for you, why not look into getting a steel security door with incorporated all round deadlocking.