71 Replies Latest reply: Aug 19, 2013 7:31 AM by evan RSS

    Exchanging the Keys

    New Member

      How do Community members handle the exchange of house keys with guests?  I'm trying to avoid hiring a traditional rental agent, but as of yet, I have no way of managing the check-in / check-out and key exchange process.  (I live over an hour away from the rental property and do not plan to drive there every week.) Has anyone found realtors or property managers who will deliver and retrieve the housekeys without requiring a full-service rental agency agreement?  Thanks for your advice!

        • Exchanging the Keys
          mike Contributor

          Where is your vacation home?

          • Exchanging the Keys
            New Member

            I have installed a lighted keypad deadbolt.  Codes can be changed periodically and you won't need keys at all.  Once you have received full payment from your guests, you can give them the code.  The code doesn't need to be changed for every guest, although I tell my guests that I will "assign them a code for their visit".  I change it every 3 or 4 guests.  I've been doing this (I actually had a lockbox before, but the lighted keypad makes the house keyless) for 15 years and never had a problem.  No more dealing with keys at all!

              • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                New Member

                Awesome - thanks for this suggestion!!!!!

                Lise

                • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                  New Member

                  I do the exact same as above, except I do change the code for every set of guests.  Remember to delete the old codes though, just adding a new one does not delete the old one.  Usually these lockpads can store up to 100 codes!  The only one that you shoudl leave in is yours. 

                   

                  Also, it is a good idea to leave a 'realtor-type' keybox outside with a real key in case somehow the renters mess up the lockbox or the code was enetered wrong or whatever.   

                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                      swlinphx Premier Contributor

                      I do the exact same as above, except I do change the code for every set of guests.  Remember to delete the old codes though, just adding a new one does not delete the old one.  Usually these lockpads can store up to 100 codes!  The only one that you shoudl leave in is yours.

                       

                      I'm not sure what keypad and electronic lock system you're using, but I never heard of an entry level one which stored 100's of codes.  The ones in the $75-125 dollar range usually store two or three.  I have several, some different brands, and they all are like that.  Also, with those units setting a code over another code does indeed erase the first code (for example, if you enter a new code for Code #2, the old code for Code #2 will be deleted).

                       

                      I have an electronic deadbolt on my own unit too.  When my old manual deadbolt went bad on one side I figured why not have one for myself too.  That way, when I go from unit to unit I don't have to take any keys to lock or unlock, as the secret master code is the same for them all.  The one on my own unit however features not only a backlit keypad with codes and a traditional key, but also a wireless keyfob to unlock your door from your keychain, just as you do with you car (it was only around $100).  It's great when your hands are full! 

                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                      Contributor

                      What make is your electronic keypad?  And can you still use a key if necessary?

                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                      New Member

                      Swordspider has a good point about the lockbox -I do still have the old lockbox with a set of keys in it in case of an emergency.  You can buy a lockbox like this and mount it outside on a fence or somewhere, it has a push button code entry system and stores your keys.  I also live far away from my rental, which makes changing the code every time difficult, which is why I change it every few guests.  I have never had a problem with this, especially since most guests also come from a distance.

                      • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                        tyann Contributor

                        Here is a previous discussion on keypad locks.

                         

                        Tyann Marcink

                        Canyon Retreat and Nature's Retreat | www.vacationhomeinbranson.com

                        Website Design and Photography | www.marcinkdesigns.com

                        Handpaited Children's Room Decor | www.littleelephantcompany.com

                        • Exchanging the Keys
                          kiawahcottage Community All-Star

                          I have 2 lockboxes at my VR.  I give renters the combo for one, if it won't open or the key is not in it they have to call me for the other one.  Keys for the renters to use are inside the house. I change the code once or twice a year and I have never needed to give out the second code.

                           

                          The lockbox key has a tag that says 'lockbox key - return to lockbox' so hopefully it will not be left out (and so far it has been returned).  Also, my lockbox has rotating numbered cylinders so I have to remind the renters to scramble the code.

                           

                          Paul

                          vrbo 131254

                           

                          Kiawah Cottage

                          Promote Your Page Too

                          • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                            New Member

                            Theres a lot of electornic locks on the market that eliminate the use for traditional keys. Theres 2 ways to go as far as how the codes work..Each way has a large variety of brands and features to pick from,

                            1. the lock kwikset,schalage inexpensive and use the same few codes that need to be changed manually. around 100

                             

                            2. More expensive, but use either internet or pc software to  generate guest, houskeeping, maintenance codes etc. The codes are already preset technically when the lock is programmed for evey possible date that a code could be issued for. You can chose the dates and times the codes work, so if guest is due in saturday at 3pm then thats when the code works, same at check out time.You can even do an audit trail on the lock to see whom has entered the unit on what date and time. If you ever got a bill from a service person and wondered if they were ever there this would tell you.  A lot more conveinant, but more expensive. around $280 to 550

                             

                            You can always mount a lock box on the outside of the unit to place the keys inside as well. Downside is the code you have to change, and your relying on the guest to put the keys back for the next set of people.

                             

                            If you need any help or have any questions feel free to let me know,, hope this helps

                             

                            www.locksmithmyrtlebeach.com

                            lhlockcompany@aol.com

                              • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                Contributor

                                Hello

                                My wife has installed a Resort Lock 4000M which was a laborious task heightened by the fact that the door earlier had a SafLock which included cut outs where screws needed to be placed as well as relocating the lock downward.The next one will also replace a Saflock that accommodated a credit card type key just like the first onel In a nutshell I was impressed that she and I as helper made it work. Do you know if we can install thermostat remotely controlled in conjunction with the RL system? And if not what is available.

                                 

                                Next issue-- my review of the internet seems to indicate that Schlage will not work since the property is in Litchfield and we are seven hours away and the wi-fi from Charter is not without some problems. I would like to find a keyless entry system and thermostat control that work seemlessly together and that is controlled by computer wherever we might be- i.e. can send codes to guests for entry and set the thermostat when we choose. Does such exist?

                                thanks

                                Bill Jones

                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                    New Member

                                    Hello Mr Jones,, Im not aware of any software that will work with the resort lock and a thermostat. I know of some software and products that will work a lock and other items lights, surveillance, thermostats etc, but however not for the theremostat and the resort lock.. The resort lock software itself is pretty much its own code, it probably could be combined using a software programmer person but the cost would be way to expensive,  Youll probably end up with 2 different softwares. Using 2 softwares really isnt bad, youd have one for the lock, and another that could control the rest of the home.   The only real issue will be having a internet service connection within the unit that is only for the unit, not a wifi shared by the building. As long as you had internet you can remote control pretty much everything electronic in the home.. Let me know if you have any other questions,  Thanks for you interest,

                                     

                                    Tony Humes

                                    LHLC  (843) 995-4101

                                      • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                        Contributor

                                        Thank you Tony for your response, With the Resort Lock installed we will check out the thermostat from another vendor but if I recall correctly the ones I saw required the continued operation of the wifi within the unit to remain operational and that is my problem since Charter doesn't rate a 100% on service and for that reason I liked the Resort Lock since the computer and wifi in the unit had nothing to do with the operation of the codes etc.I spoke with someone at Schlage and she confirmed that all of their locks were operated by the wifi in the unit so I have written that company off in hopes of finding another. Lockstate connect was sent to me from Resort Lock but it looked as though the product was not available.bill

                                         

                                        William W. Jones,  430 Mellen Avenue Knoxville, TN   37919 Tel:  865-523-2445 Fax:  865-523-8033

                                        wwj430@msn.com

                                        Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 08:33:51 -0600

                                        From: community@homeaway.com

                                        To: wwj430@msn.com

                                        Subject: - Re: Exchanging the Keys

                                                                                                                        Seek Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                                                                                                                        Re: Exchanging the Keys

                                         

                                         

                                            created by locksmithmyrtlebeach in Checking In and Out - View the full discussion

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                        Hello Mr Jones,, Im not aware of any software that will work with the resort lock and a thermostat. I know of some software and products that will work a lock and other items lights, surveillance, thermostats etc, but however not for the theremostat and the resort lock.. The resort lock software itself is pretty much its own code, it probably could be combined using a software programmer person but the cost would be way to expensive,  Youll probably end up with 2 different softwares. Using 2 softwares really isnt bad, youd have one for the lock, and another that could control the rest of the home.   The only real issue will be having a internet service connection within the unit that is only for the unit, not a wifi shared by the building. As long as you had internet you can remote control pretty much everything electronic in the home.. Let me know if you have any other questions,  Thanks for you interest, Tony HumesLHLC  (843) 995-4101

                                         

                                         

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                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                    twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                    I too have a resort lock. Have had it since January 2010. I absolutely love it. I live in Wyoming and my property is in Missouri. I don't give out master codes to anyone, including the cleaning people. That way if anyone states that something is missing during their visit, they will have to talk to the other guests in their home, as NOBODY would have access except them and me. AND I am 1000 miles away. Nobody has suggested anything has been missing, but it just gives them that added security that THEY are the only ones that have access during their stay.

                                     

                                    It was worth every penny, no more lost keys, nobody has to worry if they show up late, no payment for someone to meet the at the door. all in all, I would say that I have saved money with resort lock and would recommend them to anyone.

                                      • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                        New Member

                                        Hi,

                                         

                                        This is the first time I'm actually arranging for finding a rental so not sure what is the "norm" and requesting community help.

                                         

                                        So far, 2 different owners have described the reservation procedure requesting for full deposit by personal check sent via snail mail and have offered to send the house key via snail mail as well. 1. my weekend is only a couple weeks away and am nervous about possible snail mail delay 2. I've only stayed at rentals with lock box key so not sure I'm confortable being sent a key separately.

                                         

                                        Both listings have positive reviews and I'm anxious to finalize my weekend plans but just wanted to check with others' feedback.

                                         

                                        Thanks Community!

                                      • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                        margaret Senior Contributor

                                        I use Resort Lock and I love it. I set codes for each guest to use during their stay. The code is active from check in to check out then expires. I am in NJ and I manage my SC VRs from home on my computer and Resort Lock makes life much easier with no keys to worry about.

                                          • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                            New Member

                                            Thanks to everyone for your feedback! Yes...it does seem rather strange...place was such a deal but I've decided to go ahead and pursue a different property for my own peace of mind.

                                              • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                If you liked it I would have at least brought this up with them and given them the chance to accommodate you first or find out why they don't use an electronic lock (doesn't have to be ResortLock, there are many cheaper ones that are not remote) or even a lockbox.  Maybe they are new at this and need the advice.

                                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                    New Member

                                                    Thanks, swlinphx. I will definitely keep that in mind for next time. Given my time constraint to secure a rental (not to mention that I'm also rather a high strung neurotic planner) I wanted to finalize my reservation asap and had other exchanges going on that I felt more comfortable with. Also was only about ~$50 difference between this and the other.

                                                      • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                        swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                        I understand hana23.  But if they follow-up with you let them know why you decided against their rental so they at least know and have the opportunity to consider rectifying their procedure.  That's the kind of constructive criticism that will help them in the long run.

                                                        • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                          beachbumz Active Contributor

                                                          Whoa, whoa, whoa! I use this method for now and WHY you ask? Because I've been looking at better, other available means to go to. I get about 1 week, spring and fall, to get that method in and work out the kinks. This September will be my kinky week. Have I decided to go with a lock box? No, if you ask me THAT's completely bass ackwards. Like Margaret, I too am going with a wi-fi approach. Why didn't I do that before you ask? Because wi-fi where I'm at sucked! As to the deposit and snail mail, I require a deposit 45 days in advance, so my renters have the keys and pass at day 40. If it's not there by then, it's sent express mail. So before you start tossing out generic statements about how this is "strange" or "very strange", take in mind there are sometimes some reasoning behind it. Hanna23 is a big girl, if it makes her uncomfortable, then the obvious answer is don't do it. Just sayin'

                                                            • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                              twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                                              You don't have to have wifi at the location to have resort lock, just batteries. You DO have to have wifi at your location to get the code to give to the customers. All you have to do is make sure that the batteries in the door lock are replaced from time to time. I did find it stange that keys would go through the mail, only because what if you have back-to-back reservations.That would make me nervous to have duplicate sets of keys back and forth. I do understand about the lockbox being a potential problem, could you have another lockbox some where else, a water spout, etc. I worried about my garage door opener being taken by a guest accidently, but I have in large print that there is a $100.00 fee if that happens....so it just hasn't yet (thankfully).

                                                               

                                                              I guess I made the assumption that if most people lived far away that they would hire someone to provide the key to the guests and then made sure that they got them back. Had no idea that people mailed keys back and forth. Sorry if I offended anyone.

                                                               

                                                              I guess, this just makes me love my resort lock that much more. No keys, no worries about losing keys, no worries about getting in the house. (I think I should be a commercial for them...what do you think?)

                                                                • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                  beachbumz Active Contributor

                                                                  No offense. Wi-fi just appeals much more to me. I will have to look into resort lock though based on your information and recommendation. Thanks for the info. And yes, you appear to be a very good unpaid spokesperson.

                                                                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                      twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                                                      I have had it for over 3 years now and have not had any failures in operation. However, if a guest shows up early....it won't work and then they call and say the combination isn't working. I have to always look at my watch to see if they are trying to access before the check in time. That has been the answer every time so far. If they really need to get in early, I just jump on the internet and get another code for the period of time that they are early and then tell them to use the other code for the remainder of their vist. (I had this happen when the folks were traveling with an elderly lady that had to use the bathroom...like right now) HA!

                                                                       

                                                                      Also, they can program in a shorter 4number code after using the original code for the rest of their trip, if they wish. It will still cancel all codes at the departure time that I have coded into the computer. Many just use the garage door opener to come and go.

                                                                       

                                                                      By the way, I live over 1000 miles away from my VR

                                                                        • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                          carol Premier Contributor

                                                                          I'm curious, twobitrentals: when you send the guests that code, do you clearly state that the code will not work until check in time? 

                                                                            • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                              twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                                                              Carol,

                                                                               

                                                                              My welcome letter goes out to the guest as soon as their funds clear my account. In the first paragraph in large letters, it states "the dates and check-in/check-out times are listed below, please verify with me that these are correct as the door will NOT open at any other time". Most folks do verify with me that they are correct. some I never hear from again, so I guess they think if it is right, they don't have to worry about confirming with me. It also states that the check-in/check-out times are firm because of back-to-back reservations and the limited time that the cleaning folks have to get in and out.

                                                                               

                                                                              Actually, my welcome letter is quite long and very specific including that they should print it out and take it with them. The codes are also in this letter!! HA!

                                                                                • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                  carol Premier Contributor

                                                                                  Sounds like you have it all covered! 

                                                                                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                      twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                                                                      Actually Carol, it was because of folks on here with wonderful suggestions that helped me tweek my contract, my welcome letter, my request for reviews, my refund of deposit letter....etc.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      I am pretty sure that I have read things that you have written that have encouraged or provided me with information that helped shape my business. I truly find this website a blessing to me when we can do that. I only found out about Resort lock on here. That was an amazing find for me. I am also looking into the "nest" for my thermostat based on information shared on here.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Love this place and folks like you!

                                                                                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                      iopbeachhouse Community All-Star

                                                                                      I have had the same experience. I tell my guests in several places that the combination will not work until their stated check in time and yet they will show up, try the code and call me to say something is wrong. One other suggestion I have, we find the directions for entering a shorter, personal code to be a bit confusing. I made up a document called "working the locks" that has pictures and an easier to follow step by step description. It also tells them how to lock our French doors correctly. Contact numbers are also included in case they have a problem getting in. I send it out with the code to every guest.

                                                                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                    vacationrentalauthority Contributor

                                                                                    We use a similar system so we can control access for guests, cleaners and repairs as needed.  A quick online change or addition of a code within a limited time frame allows us to control who has access and when.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Robert

                                                                        • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                          sage Community All-Star

                                                                          hana23 -

                                                                          I find it strange that people might it strange that the key to a VR would be mailed to the traveler.  When I have stayed in VRs the practice has been that keys were mailed to me.  I live 2 hours away from my VR and rely on the mail to get keys to and from guests.  Electronic locks are not an option for me because none are available for the non-standard doors used in our condo complex; although there is a lockbox on the door, if a guest took that key for routine access it would leave no backup in the event of a lockout.

                                                                           

                                                                          What does sound strange in your situation is that, based on what you posted in the travelers' discussion section, at least one of the owners was to mail the key at the same time the owner mailed the rental agreement to you, and before you returned the signed rental agreement and a money order as payment.  That is so unusual that I would fear that the person was mailing out a key as a way of lulling a traveler into a false sense of security so the traveler would mail the money order, only to arrive at the property address and either find out there was nothing at that address, or the key that had been delivered did not open the door (and the property was already occupied).

                                                                           

                                                                          Since you say that place was "such a deal," and being a great deal can be a basis for suspicion all by itself, I think you are wise to avoid that property.  And you might be doing the world a favor if you notified the customer support people of the circumstances that raise suspicions. It may be legitimate, but you might save someone else from being a victim of fraud.

                                                                           

                                                                          To minimize the delays that could arise from use of the mail, you might filter your property search to limit it to those properties that accept HomeAway Payments, or look in the listings to see if the property accepts credit card payments, or ask in your inquiry if the owner accepts credit cards.  Many owners are set up for electronic signing of their rental agreements, or the agreement can be faxed or scanned and sent as an email attachment. While not all owners are electronically savvy there are many who should be able to have the rental agreement to you and returned, and to receive your payment, by tomorrow which should leave time to get keys to you by mail.

                                                                            • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                              New Member

                                                                              Hi Sage,

                                                                               

                                                                              Yes, my suspicions were exactly that - she offered to send me the key along with the rental agreement before receiving a signed agreement or deposit. I don't want to think badly of people and perhaps she is just an overly trusting old fashioned owner but it does grate against my comfort level and seemed out of norm from my consulting with my personal friends with VR experience.

                                                                              She DOES have positive reviews...but not sure if those can be faked on these sites if it is a scam situation.

                                                                               

                                                                              So glad I found this forum. Thanks to everyone for their advice!

                                                                        • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                          ttaylor0 Active Contributor

                                                                          I am old and still use real keys for my VR. I have the cleaning lady go over an put a key under the mat the day my renters are to arrive. I have never had a problem. Also as swlinphx said, I too have taken in many keys to different locksmiths that had "do not duplicate"stamped on them and never had one say a word about making me copies. I'm just too cheap to spend several hundred dollars to have one of the keyless locks installed when I have used the same key for all my guest for several years. But, they have to be better for peace of mind.

                                                                            • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                              swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                                              Ttaylor0, you can get an entry-level electronic lock at Home Depot or Lowe's for a one-time investment of $80.

                                                                                • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                  lincoln Active Contributor

                                                                                  Also another non-internet lock is erental which we chose.  However, as a renter I am afraid to rent when people mail keys or use key lockboxes because of security and even the cheaper code locks.  Being aware that  all owners do not change the codes between guests could result in renters  to decide to arrive early when guests are still in the unit  or check out late  etc.  Security is a big issue becase we travel with such expensive electronics now and I have much more confidence in the locks with individual codes for each guest.  Sure the cleaner(s) MC and owner etc. may have them, but it's not as risky as the other options.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Note Erental does not require internet at the VR but I needed to get on-line at my home to set it up initially 18 months ago.   ERental offered the more secure dead bolt Schlage lock that we preferred.   Pre-set with 10,000 codes and never a problem.

                                                                                    • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                      swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                                                      We have different brands on our units.  They all have their pluses and minuses but all are better than using the same key for stranger after stranger.  If you live on property like us and have to enter each unit between rentals anyway, then there is no need to get an expensive Internet-enabled electronic lock.  For the $80-100 price point, no electronic lock should be beyond the budget of someone whose vacation rental is a business investment.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      I even put one on my unit when my old manual deadbolt began to fail merely for the convenience.  Mine even has a keychain fob to lock and unlock my front door just like my car, which is great when your hands are full.

                                                                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                    vacationrentalauthority Contributor

                                                                                    I understand your penny pinching ways.  I really do but please concider the value of haveing a keyless entryway.  It is incredibly easy to provide guests with a 4 digit code to enter the VR.  Some of these locks cost less than $100 and can be easily installed by the homeowner as long as you can operate a screwdriver.  More advanced systemes allow you to change codes for each guest and have a code for cleaning crew, maint, ect.  Codes can be set for specific times and dates or limited to just a small window to allow cleaning crews to come and go.  These locks can even inform you via email when a code is used to enter the home.    Cool HUH

                                                                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                    atinkeyme New Member

                                                                                    Hi ,

                                                                                    Has anyone looked at KeyMe as a possible solution?  It's a new app that allows you to manage, copy, and share your keys.  Check it out at (http://www.keyme.net)

                                                                                     

                                                                                    This is a solution for people who don't want to install an electronic lock.  We've found that physical keys have been around for ages and they work well.  Using our app, you can simply send email someone the code to have a locksmith create a key or have a physical one sent to them in the mail.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Full disclosure, I work at KeyMe and would love to hear any and all suggestions.  Please let me know.  Our team can be reached at support@keyme.net


                                                                                    Thanks,

                                                                                    Atin

                                                                                      • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                        sasmo Contributor

                                                                                        While KeyMe looks cool to have for a regular person, I can't see this as a real solution for VR owners. I'm pretty sure no renter wants to make a trip to the locksmith just to get into your place when they could use a keyless or lockbox. Not to mention you now have 100 people walking around with your key. The only possible use I see is if you use a lock box, but then have this as a "spare" backup, but I would never use this as my everyday solution. 

                                                                                         

                                                                                        In my opinion: Cool product, wrong market.

                                                                                          • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                            evan Active Contributor

                                                                                            my 3rd full yr rental  110 rentals and the old fashioned  lock box has worked great. never a lost key ever as the renter puts the 2 keys back in box when leaving. every yr one can chaage the front door key with the lock smith. i can't have an electronic door lock as my door has 3 latches and is too heavy

                                                                                              • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                                swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                                                                Evan, do you mean you actually have three dead bolts on your door?  If so, you can get three electronic locks for $300 and use the same code for each, then change the code after each guest to the same again on each.  When you consider the security issue, even $300 is not a lot for a one-time expense to secure your home and business.

                                                                                              • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                                swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                                                                I completely agree with sasmo.

                                                                                                  • Re: Exchanging the Keys
                                                                                                    evan Active Contributor

                                                                                                    no swlinphx i haveone of those 10 foot high very heavy 2 piece front doors that has 2 other areas it opens when i turn the key so the key takes a little force to turn. I think it has some kind of bar that runs up and down it so when i turn the door key it moves the latch above and below the key area. one time i mentioned to lock guy and he acted like i couldn't get. i wonder if i can?