Multifamily Housing Sector Heating Up

Aug. 2, 2023
dormakaba experiencing strong growth with their end-to-end smart lock solution

The rise of the multifamily housing sector within security, often referred to as proptech, is driving demand for smart locks and mobile credentialing solutions at a rapid pace. For example, approximately 10 percent of U.S. internet households, or more than 12 million households, own a smart door lock, nearly double the adoption rate five years prior, according to the latest Parks Associates’ research from our July issue. What’s even more telling is three out of four multi-dwelling unit (MDU) property managers find the ability of smart door locks to minimize key replacement costs “very appealing,” while 73 percent of MDU properties with smart door locks use the devices to grant access to units remotely for unaccompanied viewings, package delivery or third-party services.

Smart lock and mobile access trends are here to stay, which is why manufacturers are turning their attention to providing total solutions in this area.

“Interest and adoption of electronic locks have been strong over the last five years and get stronger each year,” says Bobby Welliver, AVP, Multifamily Housing Solutions, dormakaba. “We are seeing incredible growth of, and interest in, smart locks and mobile access solutions. Streamlining operational efficiencies while reducing property liabilities are two of the most common discussions our multifamily housing group has daily with developers and management teams. Today, access control solutions play a huge role in these initiatives and should be discussed in detail.”

He continues, “For the past 25 years, dormakaba has specialized in property wide solutions, combining the necessary software, hardware, and technologies needed to streamline the resident experience and deliver full control to ownership/management teams. This includes modern features like BLE mobile credentials, secure pin code deployment and use of highly secured physical credentials, all through a single graphic user interface.”

As Welliver explains, dormakaba’s complete multi-housing access control solutions are commonly featured in market rate apartments, urban luxury or garden apartments, multifamily complexes, student housing and campuses, senior living facilities, camp workforce housing, and military housing.

“In the multi-housing industry, the right access control solution can give your property an advantage,” says dormakaba. “Security, service, and amenities are important factors to residents when searching for a place to live. Our solutions help you attract residents with secure access systems that make their lives easier. By seamlessly integrating electronic apartment locks, perimeter access controls and access management software into a single system you can help residents make the smart choice.”

Welliver adds that perimeter access is a vital part of a property wide solution, securely allowing third-party delivery companies, service providers and resident guests seamless and secure access. “This is a common conversation today and requires a full system and technology discussion/design to deploy correctly,” he says. 

Mobile Access

When it comes to multifamily housing and rentals, mobile solutions are a vital part of the overall multi-housing security equation. “Our BlueSky mobile solution is a secure end-to-end mobile credential application using best-in-class Legic Connect technology, which is a complete dormakaba offering,” Welliver points out. “For example, when using our Community/Keyscan and Saffire browser-based lock solution together, the use of BLE, RFID credentials and pin codes are all available as well, delivered in a traditional on-premises solution that delivers full ownership to developer/management teams with a very scalable approach.”

Using the dormakaba mobile access solution, residents can conveniently use their mobile device with Saffire to access their residence, as well as perimeter, elevator, parking and other common areas. Saffire LX Series from dormakaba features the latest RFID technology and offers contactless reader technology designed to enhance access control convenience for residents and improve operational efficiency for property managers. The Saffire LX comes with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) included and is available in a suite of models and amenities including the option of issuing mobile, fob, wristband, or keycard credentials.

Saffire smart lock features include:

  • Maximized security and reliability with sealed, built-in contactless RFID reader.
  • Mobile access enabled lock.
  • Meets BHMA Grade 2 certification.
  • Supported by Community Access Management Software for intuitive keycard control.
  • Over-the-air lock updates.
  • Integrates with third-party systems and solution developers for energy management, video management, visitor management, IOT, resident communication, and more.

“Saffire EVO delivers a ‘pure API’ approach to our electronic access control solutions using property wide WI-FI communication that can seamlessly integrate with our network of supported third party IOT/Property Management System providers,” Welliver explains. “This includes the convenience of the use of Bluetooth/ BLE mobile devices, RFID credentials and secure pin codes for access to resident units, common areas and perimeter access points.”

Cloud-based Management Platform

Having the ability to manage the entire property of units, or multiple properties effectively requires a management platform that can be accessed via the web and remotely using your phone. For example, dormakaba Lyazon is a cloud-based API driven platform that integrates with a wide range of third-party systems and solutions for property technologies, smart home automation, energy management, resident portal apps, etc.

“Lyazon offers a very streamlined approach with supported third party IOT/Property Management System providers to manage access seamlessly through their own, unique interfaces – mobile or web,” notes Welliver. “Connecting through property wide Wi-Fi allows property management and ownership teams full control of their properties’ access points without the need of additional hardware or hubs.”

Choosing the Right Lock

In dormakaba’s white paper on the growth of multifamily solutions, one of top considerations recommended for facility owners and installers is lock durability, noting that it is important to “recognize that door locks for vacation rental (VR) properties must operate smoothly under conditions much different than those in a normal residential environment.”

Lock Must-Haves:

  • Function in the high use setting of the commercial VR industry. Locks must withstand rougher use and higher traffic from guests, staff, maintenance workers, and vendors.
  • Continue to operate regardless of weather conditions—salt air, blowing sand, high winds, storms, extreme cold.
  • Meet building codes, homeowners’ association regulations, and condo requirements.

Ultimately, when it comes to choosing the right lock, “ask prospective vendors direct questions about measurable lock durability,” dormakaba explains. “Have them specify their average battery life, and replacement frequency. Have them give examples of their lock’s reliability in harsh environments and operating conditions. If your properties are subject to exacting building codes, verify that their locks comply. Quality locks mean lower maintenance and replacement costs. Reliability will free your staff to focus on other tasks. Oracode locks are tamper-resistant with an average life of 7-10 years or more. Oracode also offers anti-corrosion finishes for the most challenging environments.”

The overall ROI for keyless access control:

  • Increased security and safety; reduced liability concerns. Lost keys that cause lock replacements are a thing of the past. So are manual lock box recoding, key distribution at check in/check out, and security breaches due to rogue keys. An online access system delivers entry/exit notifications in real time.
  • Operational and cost efficiencies for owners and managers. You control all functions from a single online dashboard. Guests, staff, maintenance, housekeeping, and vendors all receive individual time-sensitive access codes on their smartphones. The codes are activated and deactivated at precise times and dates to allow access. You’ll have real-time, 24/7 control of property access from your smart provider phone, tablet, laptop,or desktop.
  • Utility cost savings. Add an Internet-connected device, such as an Oracode Smart Controller to your system and you can control thermostats, lighting, and more via integration with an enterprise property control like BeHome247 or another respected provider.
  • Deliver the 21st century stay your guests expect. Most VR guests value secure keyless access and home automation are willing to pay a premium rate for it.