Access Control Card Key Systems for HMO rooms – like hotel rooms?

Access Control Card Key Systems for HMO rooms – like hotel rooms?

9:51 AM, 2nd February 2016, About 7 years ago 9

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Newbie here, both in HMO buy-to-let and in the forum. Has anyone used Access Control Card Key Systems in HMO rooms as key to rooms and control usage of utility?hotel

I am thinking of the key systems used in the hotels used as both keys to enter the rooms and to activate electricity and heating in the room. I am interested to know your opinions on this system to ensure tenants do not waste energy when they are not in the rooms, to keep our planet greener and reduce landlord’s bills who offer all inclusive rooms in HMO houses.

Many thanks



Robert M View Profile

12:57 PM, 2nd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Great question. I operate nine HMOs, and have thought of using card entry systems (but did not think of them for activating electricity to the room), but I have never got around to pricing them up. In my particular HMOs I mainly house DSS/LHA residents, with a few low paid workers, and this results in a higher than average rate of damage, so I fear that electronic access locks could get damaged and when they do then the cost would be much much more than replacing a standard thumb turn lock. However, I imagine it could work quite well when letting to professionals.

nathan stark

13:09 PM, 2nd February 2016, About 7 years ago

I have considered it in my HMO's but I had some concerns.

How many times has your key card failed in a hotel, mine has a number of times and they have to re code it. I don't want multiple calls out per day for re coding.

Someone could walk out of the room with key card in electricity slot, then he's locked out (another call out)

Fire regs may not like all doors locked as fire hazard for means of escape.(depending on layout of house)

Tv licence and council tax could view them as self contained bedsits, then request you pay separate room rates.

Expensive system to put in, you would have to wire each room up, this with cost of system would make it too expensive.

Instead, there are other options that i use.

Master Key system, good lock smith can set this up. Tenants one key would open front door and their room, but no one else room.

Energy Eff. bulbs

Nest thermostat, you can then check regularly that programs not being tampered with from wherever you are.

Good luck

Gary Dully

16:43 PM, 2nd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Hello Barua,

In my HMO's I have push button combination locks, with a quick release on the inside of the room in case of an emergency etc.

They are available on eBay and online ironmongers.

The codes are easy to change but the locks are easy to break if you do it wrong at code change time.

I also have tried the electronic ones you mentioned, they are now in my garage ready for the waste skip.

rob david

17:30 PM, 2nd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Presumably your priority is the waste of 'rent inclusive' energy rather than security as your doors no doubt already have locks. Combining the two has potential for greater problems as Gary indicates in the event of failure.

Simpler to install buylec prepay as the wiring would need to be disrupted anyway. They'd then have direct budget control and would be accountable only to themselves when their weekly inclusive limit is exceeded.

Once setup the relief of energy hassel is worth it - hope this helps!

Nigel Fielden

17:30 PM, 2nd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Hi Barua

I have looked at this, being keen on technology in HMOs.

The hotel key systems are very volatile as they need systems where the "key" is very low cost as people leave with them in their pockets daily. Commercial access control systems use fobs which are much more durable. However the cost of the proximity reader plus the electric lock plus the control unit make the whole thing prohibitively expensive.

I use master key systems as mentioned above. In three years of doing this I have never had to replace a tenant's key and if I did they would pay the £15 cost of a new one. Another benefit of the ones I use is that they are security keys meaning they cannot be cut at normal key places, so avoiding tenants handing out duplicates to their mates.

I like the idea of controlling energy in the room using a card, but again the control gear would be pricy especially when retrofitted in an existing property. The other problem, as everyone who stays in hotels knows, is that you can stick any credit card shaped object in the slot and turn it on permanently.

How about using motion sensors instead?

Mr Barua

19:39 PM, 3rd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Thank you for your replies – Robert, Nathan, Gary, Rob and Nigel. As a newcomer to the industry (what a timing!) the information you have shared is very helpful.

Nathan and Nigel, I didn’t know about Master key for main and bedroom door, that is a good tip! Rob, I didn’t know about Buylec Prepay, this is another good tip! Robert, I will rent it to professionals but Gary and Nigel, as you have mentioned, in cases of emergency it will be tricky plus I too had those experiences at hotels when the card didn’t work.

I have Nest Thermostat in my house, but not sure if I can lock it like the ‘Landlord Internet Room Thermostat’, which I have in my mind. Has anyone here use this thermostat from inspirehomeautomation?

The EPC is D (58). I came across a post in this forum on fair usage policy and I am thinking to use it. There are five rooms in the house, so was thinking to cap fair usage to £250 in December to February and £150 from March till November – is this a realistic amount?

Nigel Fielden

20:21 PM, 3rd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mr Barua" at "03/02/2016 - 19:39":

I have heard about the Inspire thermostat but I use the Heatmiser Neo system in my HMOs. The reasons are that it allows the control of hot water as well as heating, and allows the thermostats to be locked (controlling your bills) while allowing the tenants an amount of "boost" which leaves them in control.

nathan stark

21:34 PM, 3rd February 2016, About 7 years ago

Be careful of thermostats that fully lock. As its the tenants right to control the heating between certain temperatures.

As per Nigel above, a boost is sufficient to control, Heatmiser, nest and Hive are all contenders to look at.

If you have a system boiler, you may need separate cylinder tank thermostats (you would need it with Hive not sure on Heatmiser)

But, Nest is good, they can turn heating on without interfering with the program. If you want to spend a bit extra. The smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is a good thing. Unlikely that there would ever be a leak from a modern boiler. But if it did happen, the alarm talks to the thermostat and shuts boiler down.

if putting the Master Key system in an HMO, put additional clause on your contracts stating that letting people in when locking keys in their room will be charged at £? as its a pain and better to make it clear.

TheMaluka View Profile

10:08 AM, 4th February 2016, About 7 years ago

I use the Paxton system on my main entrance doors and on corridor doors in my block of 100 flats. The control circuitry is well designed and easy to assemble, Paxton even run free one day courses in Brighton. Doors can be opened remotely so a tenant with a lost key is no problem, keys are comparable in cost to a conventional key and most importantly can be disabled when a tenant leaves.

BUT beware my 'tenant proof' stainless steel entrance doors cost £6,000 each and even the internal corridor doors cost £3,000. You will also need a computer to control the whole system and internet access. The whole scheme is worthwhile with a large block of flats but I doubt it would be cost effective in a relatively small HMO.

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