Exterior doors and gates
Residents using app-only access
How the Centennial Ditched Fobs to Improve Safety
Can you imagine a world without keys or fobs? Luz Garcia can. She’s the property manager of the Centennial, the first community to use app-only access for residents and staff.
Homebase has traditionally recommended that properties provide residents with fobs as a backup for the Homebase app, but the Centennial has modeled another option. This pioneering community has proven that ditching fobs is not only possible but immensely beneficial.
In the Beginning
When Luz started her job as property manager at the Centennial, the community had recently been acquired by a new owner. She was the fourth manager to take over in a month’s time and the transitions had taken a toll.
According to Luz: “It was a nightmare. Literally. It was a nightmare.” She discovered that the smart locks had all been removed from the doors during the transition of ownership. Putting them back was a time-consuming process, but Luz knew it would make her job easier.
“We see smart locks as fancy for the residents, but they’re very helpful as managers. You can walk every unit with just your phone. Without them, you have to have a ring of keys.”
A Security Nightmare
Unfortunately, putting the smart locks back on the doors didn’t end Luz’s access issues. She recalls parking at the community one night and seeing “someone who was holding something to every door.” She realized he had found a fob and was trying to see which door it would open.
The Centennial is located in an area with a large homeless population. Under the previous management, community members lost fobs but didn’t report them missing. Now, Luz couldn’t be sure how many fobs were in the hands of individuals who shouldn’t have access to the community. “It was a serious security issue and the liability on that is very, very, very high.”
Turning Lemons Into Lemonade
Luz reached out to the Homebase Customer Success team and started talking to Raul. She remembers one or two nights that they stayed up until 9 p.m. trying to figure out the best plan. Raul knew her fob situation was going to be a pain to fix. Raul said, “It’s probably better just to go with the app and forget the fobs altogether because this is a lot of work for you.” Luz agreed.
She knew that with app-only access her community would be more secure because app access can’t be stolen. Luz “loves fobs” and thinks they can work well at other communities, but resident safety was her priority.
Some residents at her property have been there for ten or fifteen years, and at first it was difficult to get them on board, but when she explained that app-only access improves safety, they understood. When she talks with new prospects, Luz finds that they’re excited.
App-only access eliminates concerns about lost, stolen, or copied keys or fobs.
Onsite teams adjust access instantly from their desks saving over 260 hours in a year.
Managers reduce unauthorized occupants by eliminating the potential for shared fobs.
The Future of Access
There have been no security issues since the Centennial switched to app-only access, and over the past few months, managing app-only access has been smooth.
“Homebase sends us an email when the battery is low, and when the locks need an update, and we just go. It doesn’t take very much time.”
Luz uses the Multi Sync feature in the Homebase app which allows her to update five or six locks simultaneously.
In addition to improving security, using app-only access has also made Luz’s job easier. She has recently been dealing with a resident who is not paying rent and is getting evicted. “I know the moment he’s out all I have to do is go on my phone and disable his access. If I had a key, I wouldn’t know who else has keys, so it’s helping me so much just having this.”
If Luz was using fobs, she would have to go to the unit to update key access in order to remove a fob from the door or assign a new fob. With app-only access, she can do everything from her desk.
When an owner visits and wants to walk a unit, she can navigate the community with only her phone or a smartwatch. No cumbersome ring of keys is required; she unlocks all community doors with a tap. “It looks very amazing.”
Learning From Luz
Luz started in property management in 2001, and Indio is the first company she has worked with that is “very tech savvy,” so when she first started with Homebase “it was kind of like a tech culture shock.”
For Luz, mastering the technology was worth it: “I have seen how the industry goes to a better and better place. Technology makes property management an easier job, so it’s a change I love.”
The Centennial has demonstrated that app-only access improves efficiency and security. Over the coming years, more communities are likely to follow in Luz’s footsteps. Her advice for property managers considering app-only access?
“Just do it. I remember at my previous property, one of the biggest things that drove me crazy was finding keys on my desk and not knowing who they belonged to. That’s gone. I feel like I have more control.”
Homebase brings the smart apartment experience to new build and retrofit multifamily with trusted technology that delivers intuitive building access control with smart locks, automation of property management, new revenue with property-wide WiFi, and IoT technology amenities residents enjoy. All completely installed and managed for the multifamily innovation leaders of this decade.