We'll see you at NMHC OPTECH 2022, Nov 1-3 in Las Vegas – find us at Booth 1112. Schedule meeting: homebase.ai/optech
Skip to main content

The Key to Building Security: Are Keys As Safe As You Think?

App-only access might be the key to building security.

It’s time to address building security risks.

In the contemporary world, we hear about acts of violence every day. From mass shootings to assaults, property managers are constantly reminded that unthinkable tragedies happen all the time. 

Surrounded by these reminders, it’s no wonder that the thought of an uninvited stranger in the halls is enough to fuel nightmares.

Looking out for a community of residents is a lot of responsibility, and that is a heavy burden when most access control systems are flawed. By identifying systemic flaws and choosing a solution that maximizes security, property managers can sleep easy knowing their residents are safe.

Let’s start with metal keys.

They are the original solution to gatekeeping entrances, but they have weaknesses. 

Metal keys can easily be copied at the grocery store right behind your building, which prevents property managers from knowing how many keys are in circulation. 

The only way to reset security is to rekey doors. This process is time-consuming, expensive, and usually avoided for exterior doors because it would require management to create new keys for all residents. That means that there are an unknown number of individuals who don’t live in the community but are able to get inside. 

That’s not to mention master keys, which pose a huge threat in the wrong hands, as communities in the Bay Area, Seattle, and Chicago have recently discovered.

Are key fobs the solution?

Key fobs are an improvement on keys. They allow property managers to adjust which fobs will work on each door without rekeying locks. This makes it easy to ensure that only key fobs assigned to current residents function. However, there are still security flaws. 

Picture this — your parked car gets vandalized, and valuable items are untouched. But, your key fobs and access cards have vanished. What could be the reason? 

Property managers around the country report individuals experiencing homelessness or non-residents of the community using stolen or lost fobs to access community amenities, units, parking garages, and more.

Key fob access has become a coveted commodity. When residents report key fobs missing, property managers can report them “lost” in Homebase Web Manager, so they no longer function. However, if residents don’t report their lost or stolen fobs, property managers have no way of knowing that a key fob is compromised.

The future of access and security.

With so many imperfect solutions, how can multifamily properties maximize security? Unlocking doors with a mobile access app is the safest solution. Only current residents are able to login and access their assigned doors. If a phone gets stolen, it is password protected. When a resident logs into a different device, their last session is logged out immediately — instantly disabling their old device.

Instead of using master key fobs, which are dangerous in the wrong hands, property staff can access doors through Homebase Manager with their phone or smart watch. Learn how the Centennial switched to app-only access to maximize security.

Use a smartwatch instead of a master key to maximize security.

Safety you can trust.

Eagle Eye security cameras are a valuable failsafe to protect community access. They integrate with Homebase Web Manager so property managers can check live footage from their desktop. The footage is stored in the cloud and can be accessed at a later date if an incident arises. Security cameras also ensure the safety of self-guided tours and Homebase Visitor Access by allowing property managers to confirm visitors’ identities.  

Though the world is full of uncertainty, it’s possible for property managers to take building security off the worry list. 

  1. Choose a smart access control system with a mobile app. 
  2. Have staff use their phone or smartwatch for building access instead of a master key or fob. 
  3. If you assign fobs to residents, communicate the importance of telling staff immediately if a fob goes missing. 
  4. Use Eagle Eye security cameras as an additional safeguard. 

Want to learn more? Chat with our team of experts about improving security at your property.


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.