Keys, Key Fobs, and Door Codes Controlling Access to Your Building

It’s been a long time since most people have felt comfortable just leaving their front doors unlocked. For better or worse, security has become the order of the day – and technology follows security needs. 

Today, that path leads to electronic access. And according to Bob Maunsell, the CEO of Electronic Security Group in West Boylston, Massachusetts,  when it comes apartment living, that usually means key fobs. 

“Anyone who is in the process of refinancing or doing any major capital improvements are installing keyless entry systems,” says Maunsell. “Everyone is moving toward key fobs. They’re also doing intercom upgrading and video surveillance and getting rid of old-fashioned mechanical keys, since there is no way to keep track of them.” 

That lack of security tracking is a major factor in replacing old metal key systems with electronic fob systems. “With keyless entry,” Maunsell says, “you know who has entered the building and at what time.  You can disable a fob when it’s lost, or when a tenant moves out.  It’s easier than having a locksmith come and change the lock.”  Changing a lock on an entry door also requires replacing what could be dozens or even hundreds of keys.  Electronic technology simply eliminates that problem.

Tony Dahlin, a security expert and owner of Bullis Lock Co., in Chicago, says: “Fob popularity has become prolific as the price has dropped.  [They’ve] long been popular in the commercial sector, but with the price dropping, condos and apartment buildings are increasingly using the technology.  Basically, fobs eliminate the need for a physical key.  If you hand somebody a key and they don’t return it, you have to change the locks.  They can make duplicates of the missing key, and you don’t know who has access to your building.  With fobs, that can’t happen –  they give you control over who enters, and when.  If a fob is lost, you just go into the software and eliminate it without affecting anyone else’s usage.”


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  • Is it legal for a condo board to deny a backup key in the event of the fob system being down? If we have sub-zero temperatures and someone needs to enter the building, and can't use their fob (we have no on-site super).....someone could literally die outside in the cold. We have a med co lock on the door, and keys can't simply be duplicated easily. Security is in question when owners prop the door when moving in/out....receiving delivery of large items, and others who simply let anyone in without truly knowing them. So how can they claim they have a handle on security if these other things are continuing to happen? It seems unfair and unethical to refuse homeonwers a backup key in case of emergency. Might this be a building code in a town or village? Is it even legal? Thank you.