In December we discussed security solutions for residential letting agents managing multi-tenanted blocks and HMOs. We said that the two most vital elements in the security armoury should be high security locks, and registered keys. Having already covered the registered keys element, in this post we’re going to take a look at the other important aspect: the locks.

In settings where there is a greater risk of intrusion, it is imperative that high security locks are used to secure doors and windows. Multi tenanted blocks and houses in multiple occupation pose a high risk for those who live in them, because individual tenants don’t necessarily have full control over all the entryways to the building in which they reside. Unless a restricted key system is used, as we discussed in the previous post, it can be relatively easy for keys to main doors to be duplicated and then fall into the ‘wrong’ hands. There is also obviously the risk of unauthorised entry into the main building through error, misadventure or simple carelessness. High security locks are therefore vital.

What is a ‘High Security Lock’?

A high security lock takes into consideration the keys, as well as the lock itself. The best possible scenario involves a high security lock, with a high security or restricted key system. It will have been officially tested by an organisation such as the Master Locksmiths Association, and, crucially, fitted by a professionally qualified locksmith.

Different types of doors call for different types of locks.

High Security Locks for UPVC Doors

UPVC doors require a Euro cylinder lock if they are going to be considered high security. The locks must be anti-snap; hold a minimum 3-star British Standard rating or Sold Secure Diamond rating, and must be tested to the latest British Standard TS007:2012.

There is a variety of brands of Euro cylinder lock and it is important to remember that UPVC doors are only ever as good as the lock they have fitted.

High Security Locks for Timber Doors

There is a range of locks for timber doors that can be classed as high security. These include cylinder locks as for UPVC doors; mortice locks and night latches.

A timber door lock must carry the British Standard 3261 kite mark to be categorised as high security and this is the minimum insurance requirement in most cases.

British Standard 3261 locks have certain characteristics as follows:

  1. They are able to prevent access in or out without the use of a key
  2. They can be deadlocked and the key can be removed from either side
  3. There should be a minimum of 1,000 varied key cuts before a key is repeated
  4. The case and bolt will be resistant to drilling using standard tools for a minimum of 5 minutes
  5. They are tamper-proof
  6. The locking bolt projects into a steel keep by at least 20mm and can take a sideways force of up to 10Kg

BS3621 locks prevent lock picking; forced entry; the likelihood of duplicate keys in the same area; destructive entry and the ability to open the door from inside by reaching in.

Mortice locks should be 5 or 6 lever, which is the minimum insurance requirement. There are some on the market that offer protection over and above this requirement courtesy of a steel anti-drill plate. Night latch locks should be minimum 6 pin rim cylinder locks rather than the standard 5 pin and tumbler style, and a night latch with automatic deadlocking will prevent slipping. All these features constitute high security locks.

Fire Safety Considerations

Where there are flats on the second floor or above, security must be balanced with fire safety. Front doors from the second floor upwards should not be fitted with locks that require a key to open them from the inside. A BS3621 lock will allow release with a single action. To boost security, add a letterbox guard which will prevent tampering with the lock from the outside.

Communal doors must have the ability to open from the inside with a single keyless action. If an automatic door closer is fitted, ensure it is well maintained, particularly as the seasons change, because if they are not working properly, they could fail to engage the lock.

The main entrance door to a house in multiple occupation cannot be fitted with a lock operated by a key on the inside otherwise residents would be able to lock each other out.

With death rates up to six times higher than in houses of single family occupation, HMOs are subject to extensive health and safety legislation. Advice from a security professional with experience and knowledge in this area is therefore essential when considering security measures.

Barry Bros Security is a Master Locksmith Association approved company and regularly provides advice to residential letting agents and landlords. We offer a bespoke service backed by decades of specialist experience, so don’t hesitate to get in touch or call in to our London showroom for the advice you need to secure your properties.