Key Security and Property Management

Tim Purpura Mar 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM
Tim Purpura

By Fernando Pires – VP, Sales and Marketing – Morse Watchmans

Putting timely and reliable information in the hands of management is just one of the many benefits when key control and asset management systems are introduced into the property management services portfolio. Whether it’s a national realty corporation, a local property management firm, or in-house facility management, all can benefit from a key control and management system through value, convenience and accountability.

Reduced maintenance and security costs, improved employee productivity and monitoring and increased tenant satisfaction all add up to a reliable business proposition that can enhance the bottom line of any organization as well as help to resolve basic security issues and challenges. In a highly aggressive marketplace, an investment in key control and asset management systems for residential and commercial properties is a solution that helps to increase a company’s competitive edge.

Authorized Use and Control

Key management and control systems are ideally suited for property/facility management applications because access to a computerized key storage system is under the complete control of management. For example, facilities and/or security management can program key storage systems to allow cleaning staff to remove only certain keys at specific times and for limited amounts of time. Along with video surveillance, this kind of automated control helps to ensure that access to restricted areas is monitored and controlled.

Accountability is increased if the key control system is connected to the network or integrated with the access control system. When integrated into the network, if a key is not returned within the prescribed period of time (or if it is returned by an individual other than the one who removed the key) an email notification is sent to management. And when integrated with the access control system, the system will know which users have keys and which do not. A user who has taken a specific key can be denied egress from the facility until the key is returned, selected management can be alerted via email.

Operating Costs

Another benefit of implementing a key management and control system is the potential for savings on day to day operating costs. A successfully implemented key control plan can help reduce costs associated with lost keys or vandalism as a result of unmanaged access. You’ll always know who has removed any key and when it was taken. Time and effort are also reduced, as management or security guards need not be present when an authorized user needs to access or return a key.

Activity reports of key usage can be analyzed by time, date, or user code for improved control of access and security issues. The reporting capabilities can also act as a time sheet, verifying hours that an individual was on the job. A user who can be held accountable for actions is less likely to disregard procedures or take other actions that might compromise operations.

The systems themselves are scalable to accommodate changing needs and growth. Multiple cabinets can form a single fully integrated system to hold hundreds of keys and other items in multiple locations, and it can all be controlled from a single PC interface.


Key control is a particularly important issue for apartments or condo complexes, because management usually has responsibility—and legal liability– for key control. With computerized key storage systems, individual keys need not be labeled. In office buildings, automated key control systems add to a building’s safety and security measures because individuals can be removed from the system quickly and easily.

To help ensure the integrity of the system, key control cabinets are often constructed of stainless steel and the keys or lockers are accessed using a built-in keypad, biometrics (such as fingerprint readers), or a magnetic or proximity card reader. And when something goes wrong—an overdue key, an open door or even misuse of the keypad, an alarm can be triggered and the event recorded in the log file.

More than just a way to control keys, today’s key control systems and their cost effectiveness have become a higher level management tool for the property management industry.