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I thought I had a good system in place for my guests to gain entrance into our home. Live and learn! Last Friday I got a call from my arriving guests. " There's no key in the lock box".
YIKES!! Well, I do have a hidden lock box with a back up key- -just in case. THANK GOODNESS! They got in just fine and were very nice about it, but I felt really bad.
1st phone call was to my previous guest who giddly said "Oh, yes, I left that key on the hall table! I'm so dumb sometimes! I forgot to tell you." ( we'd spoken twice after she 'd departed!!)
2nd call was to my housekeeper who said her daughter had cleaned, and had seen the key, thought it was unusual, but no one thought of calling me! ( they do check to see that the "inside key ring" is in place)
SO now, I 've included my caretaker as the final back up to make sure both lock boxes have keys.
Lesson learned-- as I've learned so many -- -the hard way!! :-).
That's a confluence of unusual events!
You might consider securing the ket to the lockbox cover, if it's possible. The lockbox we use has this feature, the cover is removed with the key attached - it would be difficult for someone to continue to use the lockbox key or misplace it. (Not impossible, just very awkward - similar to the restroom or supply cabinet keys on large tags at an office.)
It would also be difficult for cleaners to overlook it's absence when they come by.
It's surprising how something new occurs every time you think you've got it all under control (or nearly under control)!
Have you considered a keyless lock? Then there is no lost key possibility nor a potential security risk where the renter made copies of the key and could return at a later date when the property is vacant. I have had good experiences with www.resortlock.com and schlage iLink lever keypad locks although the schlage requires internet access or a zwave powered transmitter at the property.
Rick-- Cost? and how in the world do I reset it? I have a housekeeper, property maintance guy in on a regular weekly basis. Neither of them would be able ( or willing to use a new code each week). Would my original door locks with a key work also?
The cost is $299 for the regular ResortLock and $399 for the more weatherproof version. If your door is under a porch or some other way not directly exposed to the rain then you can do the $299 version. You can preset the lock with the 4 digit codes you like for yourself, housekeeper, etc. Then you visit the resortlock website from your phone or your house where you live now and generate a code to give the renters that is based on their arrival and departure times. You can generate them for up to a year in advance I think. I usually just generate mine the week of the arrival. After their departure, the code no longer works. The website sends the renter an email for you with instructions on how to enter the code and how to generate their own 3 digit code that will be valid during their stay. The ResortLock has a key as well, you can put that in a lockbox or hidden location if you like but I'd definitely hide it so you don't have vandals/criminals trying to break open the lockbox to obtain a key. You replace your original lock so any keys you have would work with other locks on the house if you chose to.
We got the same thing through e-rental locks and we have been very happy with them. I do send a additional document with a picture of the lock and step by step instructions. I also have a few contact numbers on that document so they can call if they have a problem. So far, only had one elderly couple that called and said they couldn't do it. Our housekeeper was there in a flash and got them in, changed their code and gave them a personal lesson.
If you consider that having a lockbox and a physical key is not much different than having a keycode that goes unchanged between renters, then simply switching over to a keyless lock. In fact, for all intents and purposes, that's what your current lock box must be - it's just that instead of typing the code on the door, they enter it in the lock box, then use a key to open the door. So having a key-code door for your guests and cleaner is no step backward (nor forward).
Sure, there are units that can be changed remotely between each guest (via internet). But changing the code manually really isn't so hard that a housekeeper can't do it - ours just requires typing in a 6 digit master code, then entering the new 4-digit code 2 times in a row. Or to reset it and wipe out all but the pre-programmed codes, they type in the master code followed by 2 more keys and it is all reset to factory settings. It's really very easy. And it also has a real key/tumbler so you can get in even if all the codes are lost or the battery is completely dead.
As for electricity, nearly all are battery powered, and for us, the battery lasts about a year of normal weekly use.
We have the Schalge non-internet locks on our houses <http://consumer.schlage.com/Products/Pages/category-landing.aspx?category=Electronic+Keypad+Locks> We like them because they are easy to program, they have a real-key over-ride, and the electronics only release the lock - the deadbolt is actually turned by the person at the door. This design uses much less electricity than the type that also move the deadbolt - so the battery lasts much longer.
There are many very expensive, internet controled systems that track people coming in ang going out, but for simply lock-box replacement, a $90 Schlage deadbolt set is the best answer.
We use a combination key safe containing 2 keys and also have a backup key safe with another combination. We have a clause in our lease agreement that the keys are to be replaced in the key safe and combination wheels scrambled prior to departure. We also state that there will be a $50 charge PER KEY if they are not in the key safe when the cleaner arrives. We've never lost a key. BTW, those key safes cost $30.00 at Home Depot.
I use the two lockbox method. We are in a gated community so I only change the codes twice a year. The lockbox keys have a plastic tag from the hardware store with a paper insert. On the insert I wrote (on both sides).
LOCK BOX KEY
RETURN TO LOCK BOX
The keys they use for their stay have solid metal key tags and look totally different, so they can't get mixed up.
My access e-mail explains this and also states that the lock box key is to be immediately returned to the lockbox, (VERY IMPORTANT) in case it is needed again. I tell them if they need to use the backup lockbox they have to call me for the code.
So far this has worked for me. You just have to be careful not to send a guest the access code and then change it before their arrival without telling them. Trust me! That is quite embarrassing!