Master Key And Single Key Systems

Master key and single key systems help rationalise the number of keys you have and can also provide greater security for your home, business or investment premises.

What kinds of master key and single key systems are available and which ones represent the best choice when it comes to your particular needs?

Residential Homes - Owner Occupied

A single key system can work well for residential homes where a small, trusted number of people require access. All external doors can be unlocked with the one key.

The point of most single key systems is that they also have an authority attached. This means nobody can cut one of these keys without your written authorisation. It is a great way to ensure peace of mind and greater security control.

Another situation where a single key system can be of benefit is if you are caring for an elderly or invalid family member who is still independent enough to live on their own, but requires regular visits from you or other family members or carers. Having a single key system minimises the number of keys anyone has to keep track of and also - as per above - increases the security of the house. You control who has a key and nobody else can cut a key without written authorisation.

Apartment Buildings, Townhouses or Units - Tenanted

If you own investment properties and are landlord to a building or complex where there are multiple premises and tenants, you will likely benefit from a master key system.

This is where two types of key are issued.

The master key gives you access to every premises. The secondary key - usually called the change key - will only open the specific lock it is fitted to. This avoids the obvious problem of tenants having keys to each others' premises.

Isn't this a problem when tenants move out and new tenants require a new key?

Luckily, it's not as difficult a situation as it may sound. It is relatively straightforward for any locksmith to change a lock to fit a new key, especially if there is a universal keying system in place in the first instance.

Rather than cutting a new key to fit the same lock (which could mean ex-tenants can still come back and use their existing keys), the locksmith will re-key the lock. This is a process by which they remove pins from within the lock, replace one series of pins (usually the lower pins) while keeping some pins the same (so the process is quick and easy). The new lower pins are positioned so as to slot into the new key. The locksmith can configure the lock so that it still operates via the original master key and will now also operate via a new change key.

Business, Commercial and Other Premises

Most commercial premises and large scale, shared premises such as schools, hospitals, health care centres will have a combination of master key and individual key systems.

As with residential premises, it will most likely be the case that some individuals - such as building owners and caretakers - will need a master key. But you would not want every employee having a master key so you would create change keys for individual areas such as offices, classrooms, storage rooms and other areas requiring secure access.

Are there any drawbacks to master key and single key systems?

The primary drawback is the most obvious one. If you lose your only master key or single system key, and it is an authorised system, it is slightly more difficult and time consuming to replace. In most instances you will need to get the locksmith who created the system to make a new key and you will have to give written authority.

In case of emergency, qualified locksmiths may be able to provide access by re-keying your lock on site. Or, in a worst case scenario, you may need to call emergency services to break into a premises, if someone inside is in danger and you cannot wait for your own locksmith.

Jeremy works with Five Star Locksmiths (Melbourne). Five Star Locksmiths provide 24 hour locksmith services in Melbourne's CBD and its suburbs. Jeremy writes content that provides value to the readers.

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