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Undercover access: security technology helps managers safeguard properties.

Access cards, key fobs and fingerprint scanning sound like items from the latest spy novel. However, these items provide types of controlled access widely used in commercial buildings for the last several years; they are now appearing on a regular basis at new apartment communities.

Access cards and key fobs--the new version of access cards--are used to give residents access to their communities and provide a secure way to control who has access. The card or fob gives tenants access to the garage, entrance into the building and access to their office suites. In some cases, the card or fob must also be used on the elevator to access a particular floor. Access cards are usually the size of a playing card. Key fobs are so small they fit on your key ring.

Both garden and high-rise residential communities are turning to such high-tech security access in the interest of protecting residents and properties. Access card systems can bring value to a property, and in effect, benefit a real estate manager. Certainly, providing additional security for residents and putting their minds at ease regarding who can enter their community can only help to market the community. Controlled access also allows managers to increase rents since residents perceive this as a tremendous amenity.

Additionally, access cards can help managers with their buildings' operations. They can be programmed from a computer in the leasing office, allowing managers to add and delete residents as needed. If a resident moves out and does not return the card or fob, the manager simply deletes the number from the system and the resident no longer has access. If cards or fobs are lost, they can be deleted from the system, saving the expense of re-keying.

In addition, a record is kept by the computer of all cards and fobs--and thereby, residents--that access spaces including the date and time. If vandalism occurs in an amenity area, it is much easier to find out who was in the space at the time the incident occurred.

Controlled access systems do require maintenance. For instance, the computer chips in the cards could go bad or the software controlling the controlled access system might need to be upgraded. But if properly maintained by the installation and maintenance company, the systems have minimal problems. Managers should have a maintenance contract with their vendor laying out how to handle such issues.

Installing the system during construction is easiest, but controlled access can be added to a property at a reasonable cost as long as electricity is available. If additional electric lines have to be pulled, the costs can become prohibitive. To find out more about controlled access, managers should call around to local companies that install and maintain such networks, or take referrals from other managers who have installed similar systems at their properties.

Keeping a property safe is central to quality property management, and implementing controlled access cards or key fobs certainly heightens security. Fortunately, this technology is not just futuristic gadgetry mentioned in the latest spy novel. It is a tangible tool that protects residents and properties, and puts the minds of managers at ease.

Cindy Clare, CPM (, is president of Kettler Management Inc.

by Cindy Clare, CPM

COPYRIGHT 2007 National Association of Realtors
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:neotech
Comment:Undercover access: security technology helps managers safeguard properties.(neotech)
Author:Clare, Cindy
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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