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My usually reliable housekeeper called me today to report that her car had been broken into and all the keys to her housecleaning jobs were stolen. Only one of the keys had an address attached -- mine, of course. So, now I have to rekey the entire house, which will be a chore because we have seven locks for two units with two different keys and a master key that opens all the doors.
I have a locksmith coming first thing tomorrow morning; I have no idea what this is going to cost me, but I expect it to be several hundred dollars. Should I send my housekeeper the bill and ask her to submit it to her car insurance company? Have any of you had any luck with a claim like this?
Obviously, one big takeaway is to NEVER NEVER NEVER allow anyone to write an address on any key, and I will need to have a conversation with her about this.
I dont know why you would need to replace locks rather than just having them rekeyed, but if you think it is going to cost you several hundred $$ you might want to think about upgrading to Schlage D link locks for the front doors.
I installed this on my Florida home and it works like a charm. There are no keys to lose & I can control everything from my home 1,500 miles away. I give every guest party their own personal code that is activated for at 3:45 PM for a 4:00 PM check-in on date of arrival and deactivated at 10;15 AM on day of departure. I give my manager and cleaner their own codes and can give access codes and set up codes for tradespeople for a few ninutes or hours if I wish. I also use this system to control my thermostat and get email advices when door lock is used and when thermostat programs change.
Is there an ongoing fee associated with this lock system?
I have a seasonal rental and have thought about installing such a system but I don't know if it makes sense for the 18 to 20 week season.
I have an old fashioned punch button lock box as a back up to keyed locks.
We don't have any security issues and I would need to weigh the expense against the convenience.
What an unhappy surprise, and a real bother to straighten out!
Have your housekeeper call her insurance company to ask about her coverage.
Is your housekeeper insured? Beyond car insurance - is she insured and bonded for the work she performs?
She needs to contact her insurance company and find out if she has coverage for the loss. Payment, of course, will depend on any deductibles.
Call your insurance agent / company as well. This has happened in the course of conducting your business. I find my insurance agent very helpful.
I'm suggesting the route I would follow to figure this out; I don't have any particular knowledge of insurance policies or what type of coverage would extend to this situation. When I find myself in this type of situation, I pursue all possible avenues to resolution; sometimes it pays off.
Technically it is the responsibility of the person loosing the keys to bring the property to its original condition. In this case, to ensure the house is safe with replacement of locks or rekeying, whichever is cheaper. Not for the upgrade suggested.
Reality dictates that if you bill your housekeeper for this huge expense and it is not covered by insurance, you may loose your money and your housekeeper. So inquiring about her level of insurance (and yours) is good, and coming to a mutual understanding between the two of you is best.
Re not liking punch button boxes:
Some of us have properties that are in low crime, difficult to access areas. with little opportunity for abuse. Punch button boxes are very suitable in these circumstances.
It's not likely I will be targeted by previous renters (unless they arrange ferry passage or air passage to the locale). My housecleaners have been working with me for many years and are trustworthy. Contractors come and go using the punch button box or a key hidden under the shingles. (I can imagine the horrified expressions among the electonric box and camera users . . . . )
I resist what I term "overreacting" in managing my vacation property. I have noticed a tendency among owners (and consumers in general) to buy products that far surpass their actual need.
Each home and owner will have his or her own needs, and entry systems should be decided on those needs. I vote for keeping it simple - it works in my situation.
Punch button boxes are very suitable in these circumstances.
Probably so. However, the Master brand key box with numbers on dials (rather than punch buttons) can easily be opened in about 30 seconds. I was fairly surprised when I saw this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2ChokSAqSo
Well, yes. In the nearly twenty years I've had my vacation house, I have not had any problems with unauthorized entry to the house (you can't see me knocking on wood).
It just hasn't been an issue. Perhaps I've been lucky. Perhaps some will think me an idiot.
It could be the location and nature of the community that make it a non-issue. I really don't know. But it's been ok for a long time. I'm not prepared to install systems to address an issue that doesn't exist.
But, that's my situation. If the situation changes, I'll reassess.
Here's the outcome after a very frustrating day.
The keys to our house are "secure" in that they cannot be duplicated -- the blanks are held by only a few trusted dealers and are registered in our name, so only we can get duplicates. This is because we don't want guests to make copies and then come back when our calendar says we are empty for a free vacation. Further complicating things is that we have a separate apartment in the house, so we need keys for apt 1 and apt 2 and a master key to open everything. The first locksmith we called was unable to rekey the existing locks -- he was not an authorized dealer. He, of course offered to replace all the cylinders and keys and that would have been many hundreds of dollars.
We called US Lock directly -- the makers of our system -- and were able to get the name of another locksmith nearby. He was able to come over this afternoon and rekey the locks correctly in under an hour. Total cost was just a bit over $200.
I called my housekeeper and suggested she file with her insurance. She did not want to do that -- some of you suggested it might not be more than the deductible, and you were right. So, she offered to pay herself. I felt bad about making her take it out of her pocket, so we agreed she'd do a free housecleanng for my other house (worth about $100) instead. So, I think we both walk away quite relieved -- it could have been much worse, and we both share in the cost.
Yes, I did consider the electronic locks, but at this point it is not as cost effective as the key system. That may be something we move to down the road.
What a nuisance!!!
Thanks for all your comments, I appreciated your help as I was panicking!!
I am happy you came to an understanding with your housekeeper, a bad negotiation is a lot better than a good fight, and in this case you were very understanding because you valued the long term relationship, I am sure the housekeeper will value your gesture.
As for the punch boxes, each property has paticular needs and I am not going to generalize, I am glad it works for some properties keeping their cost down. It may not work in NYC.
Have a great day!