Thursday, September 27, 2012

Security for Multi-Tenant Properties

In this blog, I've talked a lot about student accommodations. I think it gives the highest most steady returns but it has to be done ethically.  However, this kind of investment comes with issues and problems. One of them is security.

A couple of years ago, one of my apartments got robbed. In fact, during that period, a few apartments in the area got robbed and only laptops were stolen. This was revealed by the police when we went to make a report. The strangest thing was, there was no signs of break-in. In fact one of the tenants was asleep in her room while the thief went inside to remove both her laptops! 

One of my theory is the keys have been duplicated. Manual keys are easily duplicated. With 4 tenants to a house, it's hard to pin-point the culprit. Students tend to give their keys to friends and they make a copy and then their friends' friends make copies and by the end of the semester, the whole college has the keys to your apartment. 

So, I installed a key card access system. It works well because nobody can duplicate the key card unless they know my password. And I can control the number of key cards, disable and enable them as I need to. However, the system depends on electricity supply. If the thief cuts off your electric supply or if there is a power failure, the door will be unlocked. What comes with the system is a battery pack which keeps the door locked for at least another 4 hours. So when the tenants go off for the weekend they should also back up with a manual padlock.

The wiring of the system is not too complex but there are a few sections. You have to wire the access controller, to the power source, to the battery and also the push-button inside the house. So, altogether there are at least 4 to 5 sections.

I would highly recommend multi-tenant properties to have such a system. But I would never recommend my supplier... in fact, I would tell everyone not to use my supplier. Typically the basic system costs about RM500 for each door, including installation. So, at that time I found a supplier who advertised extensively in the newspaper called SECUROF. They were at least RM100 cheaper than their competitors. But what I didn't realize was the maintenance costs. Typically access controllers don't fail. It is a very simple logic board with buttons. However, this supplier used very low quality cables. Just after the initial 1-year warranty ended, the system failed. We couldn't lock our doors. This happened to all the 4 properties that I installed this system although they failed a few weeks apart from each other.

SECUROF charges a very high on-site visit rate which is RM150. Each time you call them, they will charge you RM150. So, the 1st round they came and the technician showed me the metal inside cable practically disintegrated. It has become powder! I got charged to replace the cable. But that's not the end of it..... Throughout the next 1 year, I had to call them out a few more times because each part of the 4 to 5 sections of cable began to fail. 1st it was the main source, then it was the push button, the battery pack etc etc... So, the cost of a RM500 system suddenly became almost RM1000! And I can tell you every single one that I installed had the same problem. SECUROF blamed their installation contractor but I told them they should not charge me the visit fees because all it seems to me, that's how they make their money.

I don't think I have defamed SECUROF in this case as I am just relating to all of you my exact experience. As a consumer, in Malaysia we have little rights, the only thing I can do is to warn others to be more careful. If you choose other suppliers, ask them lots of questions about the cables that they use and also cost of the spare parts after warranty.


Anonymous said...

Sin Leong, Thanks for your truthful sharing. It helps to learn from each other. I feel that manual (non-electronic is better). If anything, just change the main door lock.

KH Lin said...

Electronic access system does add value to the security. But will be a headache when come to maintenance. RM150 per visit is really expensive, especially when you has bought 4 units from them...

Back to the robbery cases, when comes to door lock, we should educate the tenant about the risk of duplicating the keys and to be more cautious about house security.

security cameras said...

To do that i would ask u to get a better security dvr cards