Tenants and Keys - System

11 Replies

I'm a soon to be first time landlord and looking to come up with ideas to how to handle the key situation with tenants (lock-outs ect.).  I will be self managing and do not want to deal at all with lock outs at 1 a.m.  I want to completely take myself out of the equation and looking for advice on what systems you guys use.  Below are some of my thoughts, however I may be over-thinking.

1. Have a 24hr local locksmith hold on to a set of extra keys for the unit.  I would give tenant their number to contact them if they get locked out.  Tenants would be charged what ever the locksmith charges.  I've called a few locksmiths and have yet to find one that offers this type of service.  I would even be willing to pay a small fee each month for them to hold on to my spares.  Seems like a win-win for the locksmith, they get my yearly fee and secure the business when my tenants lock themselves out.

2. The only other thing I can think of is charging like $250 dollars if they get locked out an and I have to let them in.  I would incorporate it into the lease.  That way I create a barrier to them calling me and get compensated generously for my time.  I am around 45 min from my rental.

How are you handling this situation?

I don't do lock outs ;) per my lease it is there responsibility! If they are locked out they have to fix the situation. If locks are changed than they need to mail me keys! I self-manage across the country. All of this is lade out in my 14 page lease. On my website I have a an article where it details all of my amendments.

You're overthinking.  

I'm not surprised that no locksmith would take you up on that deal.  You may have better luck with a handyman, if you throw him plenty of other work.

Your second option probably isn't an option.  I predict you would have to waive that fee, or lose tenants over it.  That's exactly the sort of nickel and dime stuff that will cause people to leave even if leaving actually costs them more money.

Some other possibilities:

1.  Combination entry sets (couple of hundred bucks at Lowe's/HD)

2 What I do.  Hide a key somewhere on the property.  When the tenant calls, tell them where it is hidden.

What I've done is put passage knobs (that do not have a locking mechanism) for the bottom handle and a deadbolt for the top part. This way they will never get locked out (when the door closes behind them)

Why not just have the tenant call/pay for the locksmith to come out and open the door?  Doesn't seem like you should even need to be bothered with it.  I certainly wouldn't pay for this type of thing.

On another note, here's a tip to help avoid tenant lockouts....replace door handle locks with non-locking door handles so that the only way an entry door can be locked is with the use of the key in the deadbolt.  No way to lock yourself out with this setup.  That's what I did after the first time I had a tenant accidentally walk out of the house and close the locked door behind them with their keys still inside.  Since the change, it's never happened again.

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Colegrove:

I don't do lock outs ;) per my lease it is there responsibility! If they are locked out they have to fix the situation. If locks are changed than they need to mail me keys! I self-manage across the country. All of this is lade out in my 14 page lease. On my website I have a an article where it details all of my amendments.

 I just looked on your website, that is some good stuff.  I'm going to use some of that. Are you creating a separate addendum for each clause?

Originally posted by @Saj S. :

What I've done is put passage knobs (that do not have a locking mechanism) for the bottom handle and a deadbolt for the top part. This way they will never get locked out (when the door closes behind them)

 good idea, didn't think of that

Originally posted by @Kyle J. :

Why not just have the tenant call/pay for the locksmith to come out and open the door?  Doesn't seem like you should even need to be bothered with it.  I certainly wouldn't pay for this type of thing.

On another note, here's a tip to help avoid tenant lockouts....replace door handle locks with non-locking door handles so that the only way an entry door can be locked is with the use of the key in the deadbolt.  No way to lock yourself out with this setup.  That's what I did after the first time I had a tenant accidentally walk out of the house and close the locked door behind them with their keys still inside.  Since the change, it's never happened again.

 thats what I'm going to do, thanks

I do not have a seperate addendum for each clause. I have one 14 page lease for everything!

I've been doing the same as Sajju.  Putting deadbolts on top, and only passage doorknobs on the bottom, forcing the tenant to lock the deadbolt with the key from the outside.  

On the couple of occasions that I did have a tenant call to say they were locked out, I've told them to call a locksmith themselves and pay the locksmith directly.  I've told them that if I have to call the locksmith for them, I'll charge them a much higher fee.

I do the same as some of the others above. I have only deadbolts on doors. The knobs have no locks. I've never had anyone lock themselves out because of it. Problem solved. :)

I haven't had a lock-out issue in 3.5 years.  The closest I've come is when a tenant made one of those fancy keys from Home Depot and got the key stuck in the lock.  I went over with some WD-40, squirted a little in the hole, and the key wiggled out.  I told them not to use that key anymore.

In my lease I explain that if they get locked out, they can try me if I'm around (but I won't answer at night) otherwise they can call a locksmith and pay for it themselves.

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