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Your Forgetful Tenant Has Lost His Keys… Again

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And now they are calling you at 1:00 in the morning!

hanging keys

Not all tenants are created equal

And this one specifically is giving you a hard time. The first time he lost his keys – locking himself out of the apartment – you brought him the spare copy as quickly as you could, and you were cordial and understanding too. This stuff happens to everyone after all. But now, less than a week later, he’s lost another pair! And when else would this happen if not in the middle of the night? Now you’ll have to drive all the way down there with your copy of the key, because he already lost the spare!

It can be tough to deal with less than considerate tenants, even when there is no malice involved on their side. Being a landlord is a 24/7 job, and emergencies can happen (and will). Here are some targeted options for the case at hand and some general consideration regarding the management of your rental property.

Keyless entry

A key doesn’t exactly scream 21st century. To prevent forgetful tenants and at the same time raise the value of the property for prospective ones, you could consider installing “smart locks”. Smart devices that connect with home assistants usually come with security features as well, in addition to fancy feats such as smartphone control, voice recognition and auto-lock. And if the techy stuff seems too much to you, there is always the electronic keypad option. Less frills and the same result: No more nighttime runs to rescue tenants who’ve locked themselves out. Installation might feel a bit daunting, but surprisingly it is within the DIY realm for most people.

Contract specifications

A general rule is to make a lease as comprehensive as possible – knowing that unforeseen events can always materialize. It is wise to specify in the lease how many keys each tenant receives and adding a minor lost-key fee in the contract could be a proactive way to incentivize responsible behavior on behalf of the tenant. It also can be seen as a charge for your time spent travelling to the rental to rescue your tenant. A clause could be included to assign responsibility for locksmith services, if the need were to arise, to protect yourself against unwanted expenses. The lease should also specify whether the tenant is allowed to make copies of the keys. Especially if you generally change the locks between tenants, this can limit the risk of them locking themselves out. In general, though, lost key clauses can go a long way to avoid unnecessary hassles.

Property Management Services

Unless you are enjoying retirement, or managing your rental properties is your full-time job, it can be quite burdensome to deal with marketing the property, screening the tenants, handling maintenance, repairs, and, on top of all that, rent collection. Too often landlords end up chasing tenants for the rent month after month and the eviction process for bad tenants is lengthy, expensive and complex. All of this can be a time consuming, tiresome and frustrating endeavor.    

For these reasons, especially if rental property is a side hustle – while a full-time job keeps you busy too – there are significant benefits to having a third party manage your rental property. Having a professional one-stop-shop for everything from advertising the property to handling tenant concerns can save you time and stress, as well as mitigating the risks of do it yourself property management. After all, rental property is a great passive investment, and a manager can ensure that passive stream of revenue while at the same time granting you complete peace of mind.