New vacation rental owners often find themselves wondering “How will I get the keys for my rental property to guests if I’m out of town?” Obviously, if you’re using the services of a property management company, this isn’t an issue you’ll have to worry about as the management company will take care of it for you. But if you’re one of the many vacation rental owners who handle all the ins and outs of your property on your own, you’ll more than likely face this scenario. Thankfully, there are several options that are available should you need to get keys to guests when you’re not around.
If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to get your keys to your guests, a lockbox is the way to go. With a lockbox, you can choose the combination you want and change it at your discretion. So when guests depart, all you’ll need to do is change the combination settings on the box. Most often, lockboxes either offer four- or ten-digit combinations. Those with combination wheels are usually the most affordable. However, guests may leave the wheels aligned to the combination, which can pose a security risk for your home.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about using a lockbox, though. If you live in a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), check the rules and regulations for anything about lockboxes as they may not be permitted. It’s often a good idea to install the boxes somewhere out of plain sight as they can signal to burglars that your home is empty. Finally, make sure the boxes are easy to use for guests. For instance, will the guest be able to easily access the key if it’s dark? Is the box weather-resistant? Harsh weather conditions can sometimes prevent lockboxes from functioning properly.
Keyless or Smart Locks
For something a little more high tech, you may want to consider installing keyless or smart locks at your property. As you might expect, the more technology your door lock uses, the more expensive it will be. Some keyless door locks feature just a standard keypad with resettable combination functionality. On the higher end, though, you’ll find door locks with Bluetooth, their own related apps, remote unlocking capabilities, and much more. The market for these types of door locks is increasing so you’ll probably see even more available options in the coming years.
Of course, there are some things to consider when it comes to keyless or smart locks. How is the lock powered and what happens if there’s a power outage or the battery dies? Not all guests will have a smartphone or will want to download an app for their vacation. Smart locks might not work for all of your guests. Finally, how much money can you spend on a smart or keyless lock and still have it make financial sense for you? If you won’t be making use of the lock very much throughout the year, an investment of a couple hundred dollars or more might not be worth it.
The Kindness of Others
If the above options won’t work for you, you can always see if a friend or neighbor can deliver your rental keys to your guests. Some vacation owners have also used their cleaning company or apartment front desk staff to help out with this task. While it will depend on how accommodating these individuals are, we recommend using these means on a very limited basis or as a last resort. If you’ll be using your cleaning company or other individuals who you employ, don’t forget to compensate them for their time.
Does your vacation rental have a garage and a keypad to access it? If so, you can easily provide your guests with its passcode and leave the house key inside your rental. Other vacation rental owners have taken the step of hiding their property’s house key in an outside location, like in hide-a-key rocks, under planters, etc. However, we do not recommend this strategy as it can be quite risky security-wise. Another option that’s starting to pick up steam is Keycafe. With Keycafe, you deposit your keys in one of their locations and provide the code to your guests. Then, when your guests pick up your keys, you get a notification. Presently, there are only Keycafe locations in select cities throughout the United States. But, we’re guessing that this company will continue to expand.