Master Key And Single Key Systems: Pros and Cons

Lock and key systems are still the most common security systems for residential and commercial properties for obvious reasons. Let’s take a look at their pros and cons so that you can see for yourself.

In a master key system, locks are installed for the entire facility in such a way that the property owner installs the locks on all doors or provides the tenants with the locks for installation at the time of rental. Tenants are then not permitted to install their own locks while the operator maintains a master key that will unlock, disable or overlock all of the tenants’ locks.

Several risks are present in using a master key system especially in a self-storage facility:

  1. The creation of a bailment over the tenants’ property can be a violation of the laws regarding self-storage in the state. Keep in mind that, under the law, operators of self-storage facilities have the obligation of “ordinary duty of care” – you may be held liable for certain situations where entry into the units is a must for the protection of the tenants’ property.
  2. The liability for losses increases because the tenants can allege missing items to employee theft. The master key system, in other words, invites the risk that employees will engage in criminal activity, due to their access to all the units.

But the advantages of a master key system can outweigh its disadvantages when properly managed.

  1. The system makes it easier for employees and authorities to conduct investigations into potential dangers like chemical odors, fires, and pests. For example, drilling into the lock can cause fires if there are flammable substances so a master lock is a better option.
  2. The tenants are discouraged from storing illegal or inappropriate goods with the knowledge that the master key system is in place.
  3. The tenants can use the facility for deliveries – the operator can open the units to place the deliveries inside or to inspect possible causes for inventory damage.
  4. The operator can perform routine maintenance measures on the units, say, a leak on the roof or flooding on the floor.

Ask your insurance provider about the terms and conditions when your facility has a master key system. Inform your tenants, too, about the arrangement and discuss waivers to lessen the risks for disagreements.

The single key system is suitable for residential properties where only a few yet trusted number of individuals require access. In this systems all external doors can be locked and unlocked with the single key with the point being that nobody can cut the keys without written authorization.

Single key systems are of special use in homes where elderly individuals and invalid people live independently or semi-independently. Family members, healthcare professionals, and other caregivers can make regular visits using the single key system, which means minimising the number of keys for tracking purposes.

In the end, the decision to use either of these two systems is a personal decision – or in the case of commercial facilities, a business decision – but the fact remains that it should be just one of an entire security system consisting of, say, security cameras and perimeter fences.

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