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Eliminate Accidental Lockouts

by Mel Metts

The day after I closed on my sixteen unit building, I got my first lockout call. The building was in Waukegan and I had to drive from Mundelein.

Shortly thereafter, I started to include a lockout clause in my leases. But then a more experienced landlord showed me how to virtually eliminate lockouts.

You see, most entry doors have a knob and a deadbolt. Most are configured as shown in Figure 1. using a locking "entry-style" knob.

  Figure 1. Deadbolt & locking knob

  Figure 2. Deadbolt & passage knob

The solution is to use a "passage-style" knob (non-locking) instead, as shown in Figure 2. This way, the tenant must lock their unit with a key each time they exit, making it impossible to leave their keys inside.

When starting to convert my locks, I met some resistance from existing tenants. So I left those locks alone, and had the tenants sign my lockout clause ($25 lockout fee). Before renting any vacant units I always made the conversion; there was never any resistance from the new tenants.

Now the only lockouts are broken or lost keys, and these are rare.

An added benefit: Passage knobsets are cheaper than entry knobsets, so you save money.

By the way, I've been asked whether Kwikset locks provide sufficient security, or should landlords use Schlage locks? My answer is that I have never experienced a break-in where the brand or quality of lock made any difference. Every break-in that has occurred through an entry door (as opposed to window entry) has been a kick-in. While some deadbolt makers tout their security features, the weak link is the door jamb - not the lock.