I have both a deadbolt and a doorknob lock on my door (actually, all three of my doors). I've noticed that this is a consistent pattern at most houses and apartments that I've visited in my area (I live near Boston MA).

I never use my doorknob lock and would like to remove it. I have actually been locked out of my house accidentally before when a visitor locks the doorknob without my knowledge. I would like to prevent this.

Is having a doorknob like such as this a code requirement? How would I figure that out?

2 Answers 2


Some jurisdictions, such as New York City, require self-closing, self-locking doors to the entry of multiple family dwellings (,8 or more units), but do not seem to require them on smaller housing units (such as one or two family homes) or on the individual apartments within a larger unit. Even when locks are required, they do not need to be in the knob of the door. Often there is no in knob lock but an auxiliary self locking mechanism higher up on the door. Many exit door locksets do not even have a knob, but a thumb latch. A single key often controls the self locking latch and the deadbolt.

I do not know your particular locale's code, but I would be surprized if there is a regulation about locks at all (other than a prohibition on a door that can't be opened from the inside without a key). It would be very strange if they required an in-knob lock, especialyl if you have an auxiliary latch or deadbolt.


I since have found more code in NYC concerning mandated deadbolts and door chains or similar devices on individual apartments, but still nothing requiring an in-knob lock.

  • I did find something in the MA building codes require self-closing locks on buildings with more than 3 units. Mine is a 3 unit condo, and the door in question does not connect to a common area. I suspect your answer is correct. Jul 10, 2014 at 20:52
  • While in-knob locks are almost always self locking, so are many auxiliary latches. But I guess that would just perpetuate the problem of being locked out. Usually you can turn off the self-latching feature and just rely on the deadbolt.
    – bib
    Jul 10, 2014 at 21:04

Key-in-Knob sets are common because they're cheap and easy to throw into a door, and they save the contractors the hassle of installing a deadbolt. That does not mean they're mandatory. Even where self-locking doors are needed, there are multiple ways to achieve that, many of which are more secure than the typical KIK set.

The downside of not having the outer door lock is that it means would-be burglars can come into the house before facing a locked door -- which means they can try to open it without standing out in public. If you go this route, you might want to consider installing a camera, or at least a dummy camera, to keep them from feeling quite so safe. Also consider whether unlocking this door would give them access to basement or other storage areas; you may find that you're just moving your line of defense from one door to another or several.

In some areas, an unlocked foyer may also invite attention from folks who are just looking for a place to hide from the weather or from parents.

So whether this makes sense really depends on the building and the kind of crime your neighborhood is likely to experience.

Alternative solutions to avoiding lockouts:

  • A friend living nearby who can hold a spare key for you (better answer than hiding a key, usually).
  • Banging on your tenants' doors until they let you in, since they're the ones who locked you out.
  • Combination lock.
  • Never leaving the house without a key, even if you're just going out for a minute. I don't close either my house door or my car door unless I'm holding the key in my hand. Nothing more embarassing than a locksmith having to admit he's locked himself out.
  • Indeed - this isn't a public outer door thankfully. It's just my private door directly into my condo. It has a combo-deadlock on it as well, which is why I never use the doorknob lock. Part of the reason I want to get rid of the doorknob is so that I know I can always get into the house with just the combo. Jul 11, 2014 at 11:44
  • In that case: Absolutely no code requirement that I know of, and I'd be shocked if there is one. Go for it. The only risk is possibly having to argue more strenuously with your insurance company should you get robbed.
    – keshlam
    Jul 11, 2014 at 13:19

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