How To Get Keys To Your Vacation Rental Guests

    1. Snail mail

    getting keys to vacation rental guests

    Cutting numerous sets of keys and making sure to send them out quickly enough that renters receive them before they leave home can be a real pain. And your job isn’t done yet - you also have to ensure that your renters mail the keys back to you after checkout. Forget any one of these steps, and you will have a potentially serious problem on your hands. What if the renters forget to bring the keys with them when they leave their home? What if they don't send them back? What if they lose them while they are there? Mailing keys via old-fashioned snail mail leaves a lot of room for error, and you may want to consider an alternative.

    2. Lock box

    The best way to alleviate all this trouble is to forget the idea of mailing keys altogether and buy a simple combination key box. You can attach the key box to your doorknob or anywhere on your property. The most common ones made by GE are inexpensive ($25 to $30), and can be found at most hardware stores, locksmiths or on the Internet. (Note: even in beach destinations where the salty air can be corrosive, this type of lockbox tends to hold up well.)

    Luckily, a key box is not a complex piece of equipment. It’s easy to set your own code, hang it on your doorknob, and put the keys into it. Then give the renter the combination when you send them the driving directions (they usually don't forget the directions when they leave home, and even if they do, you could always give them the code over the phone). The downside of these types of lock boxes is you cannot easily change the code after each renter.

    3. Keyless locks

    keyless entry solution for vacation rentalAnother option is to buy some sort of keyless entry door lock, such as the Schlage Camelot. These are similar to what you see in most banks and offices - the kind that has push buttons right on the lock, and you can easily change the code after each guest. These locks are great, but they are a bit more expensive, ranging from $100 to $150. They can also be found online or through most locksmiths and hardware stores.

    4. Remote access solutions
    You might also want to consider the most high-tech type of keyless lock which offers remote access. Again, these can get pricey, but they do offer many conveniences, such as the ability to create, store, and change combinations right from your home computer or even via your cell phone. You can also upgrade with accessories to control remotely the thermostat and the lights in your home. The downside is that electronics can malfunction, and the batteries (although they usually last three years) can die. These types of locks also have a monthly service fee associated with them, but you may find it worth the price for the added convenience. For many owners, this may be the only option (aside from mailing keys), since many condominium complexes prohibit lock boxes.

    Whether you go with the standard lock box or splash out for a fully automated remote system, the most important thing is knowing that your property is safe and minimizing hassle for your guests.

    © Copyright Christine Karpinski 2006