Re-Keying Ordinances Spur Lock Hardware Innovation

The state of Texas has a code calling for locks to be re-keyed after apartment residents move out, and Illinois has enacted a new amendment to its Landlord and Tenant Act that will go into enforcement in several weeks on January 1.

Dallas—The state of Texas has a code calling for locks to be re-keyed after apartment residents move out, and Illinois has enacted a new amendment to its Landlord and Tenant Act that will go into enforcement in several weeks on January 1.

Illinois Public Act 97-470 calls for landlords in counties with populations of three million or more to “change or re-key” locks on rental property after renters move out if new renters have written lease agreements. Landlords who fail to do so are liable for any damages from theft that occurs.

Other states are expected to follow with their own distinct regulations requiring landlords to change the way residents gain access to apartments following the departure of previous residents.

The most common ways landlords change access are by means of re-keying the lock or replacing the lock, says Margo Fevergeon, Lake Forest, Cal.-based senior product manager for Kwikset. There is time, labor and cost associated with either re-keying the lock or replacing the lock itself, she tells MHN.

“To re-key the lock, it has to be taken off the door and disassembled, the pins have to be removed and replaced, the lock must be reassembled and then put back on the door,” Fevergeon says.

“You must have the knowledge to do that, as well as the proper tools, including the tools to take apart the lock and put it back together. The time required varies with the number of locks on each apartment unit and the skill of the installer. But it generally would take five or 10 minutes for each apartment.”

Kwikset and other door hardware brands have unveiled a number of innovative products that allow landlords to simply and easily re-key locks without having to disassemble the lock or replace the hardware unit.

For instance, Kwikset’s re-key technology called SmartKey is a lock that can be re-keyed in seconds while remaining on the door. “There are three easy steps, and one universal tool—the SmartKey tool provided in every box containing a SmartKey lock—that are used in this re-keying procedure,” Fevergeon says.

All SmartKey products are ANSI certified, and one is a Grade 1 certified 980 deadbolt, Fevergeon reports. All SmartKey cylinders have added security features, such as a patented BumpGuard protection, as well as pick resistance and drill resistance.

Another Kwikset product, Key Control, allows landlords to gain a master key function with SmartKey technology. “It’s a deadbolt with two cylinders,” Fevergeon says. “The top cylinder, which is concealed, can be accessed by the landlord, while the bottom cylinder would be accessed by residents.

“Either one of the two separate cylinders can be re-keyed in seconds independently. If the master key is ever lost, all locks could be changed in seconds using SmartKey technology, but without affecting the key cut to the resident key. That is important, because if a master key is lost, and that cylinder has to be re-keyed, it typically affects the key cut of the resident cylinder.”

The new technology is an added value for apartment residents, who can be reassured they are the only ones other than landlords with keys to their new apartment homes, Fevergeon adds.