Avoiding Lockouts and Keeping Track of Keys

SchlageOne way to reduce tenant lockouts is to have a deadbolt with a key, not a locking door knob. Change the actual door knob to a hall /closet knob.  One without a lock.  The security is provided by the deadbolt, you do not need two key-able locks.  That way, you can only get locked out if you had the keys when you left.  

Another issue you have when you have multiple tenants, is keeping track of keys.

One of the first things I do when I buy a property is to get rid of locks that can be locked by just closing the door.  At many properties, a knob/deadbolt in a matching set works perfectly.  The deadbolt is installed on the residence door, and the locking knob on the garage service door.

If you have multiple doors, you can re-key a lock or two.  Apartments and many multifamily units only have one door to the apartment.  When you have fewer keys, and have fewer keys to track, will make your life easier.  This solves one of the major issues with multiple locks, keeping track of keys.

I stamp all of my keys with a metal stamper.  That way, no matter where I am, if I get a key I know where it goes.  When a tenant leaves the apartment, they leave the keys on the counter, or in my rent box.  They never label them.  If you just put them in your pocket, you will eventually have a box full of keys and not know where they go.

Stamp the keys.  Use ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, etc.  Do not put the address on the key.  Put a small vinyl sticker on the door near the lock.  When you change locks after EVERY tenant, move the sticker to the next door.

I have a large board with many cup hooks.  Each hook has a number or letter under it.  I hang the keys on the proper hook and all is well.  I can find or store keys easily.

Since I am always making keys, I bought a small key cutting machine.  I use Schlage SC1 “Do Not Duplicate” blanks for all of my keys.  I buy them by the 100 or more, for ~.35 each.  I charge tenants $5 for a key of they lose the key.  The lock smith charges $5 for a DND key.  So it is an easy way to save money, and also avoid a trip to the lock smith.  Or worse yet, running out of keys to an apartment, and have the tenant lose the last key.

Be sure to look at my “Coming Attractions” page and see what I have in store for upcoming articles.

What is your key tracking strategy?  Have you ever had keys you did not know where they go?

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