Airbnb Self Check-In Using Lockboxes & Key Safes
Lockboxes & Key Safes
A lockbox or key safe is a great solution for when your guests arrive and you can’t be there to hand them the keys to your property. A key lockbox is a simple storage device about the size of an iphone that can be attached to a door handle or wall. A key is locked into the container and then opened with a code that gets inputted manually. Like bike locks, key lockboxes differ widely in strength, size, and dial format. The most common models are:
- Push-button locks: These allow you to set a combination you can punch in any order.
- Wheel models: This model has four scrolling wheels with numbers or letters to form a combination.
- Dial models: Similar to a classic high school locker padlock, with one rotating dial for entering a combination
Where to Buy Lockboxes and Key Safes
- Home Depot
- A local hardware store
Buying the Best Model
Finding the right model of lock box for keys is all about striking a balance between strength and ease-of-use. If you’re looking for ultra security, it’s been found that dial models (though less convenient to open) are the hardest to break into. Push-button models are simple to program, but pass-codes can be predictable and easy to guess, and an expert can break into most wheel models by fiddling underneath the gears with a small piece of metal. Here are some well-reviewed lockbox options that are both sturdy and difficult to decode:
Kidde Access Point Keysafe – A great dial model hailed as the best by sweethome.com. This small lock box model can hold up to five-digit pass-codes (the more digits in the code, the harder it is for a thief to crack).
Holds: 5 Keys
Size: 6.8 x 3.2 x 2.7 inches
Kidde AccessPoint Keysafe Pushbutton- This door key lock box is not a dial, but as long as you’re careful to keep your codes as random as possible it should be just as secure, and easier for guests to use–especially in the dark.
Holds: 2 Keys
Size: 4 x 2 x 2 inches
GE Supra Dial Surface Mount Lockbox – A Supra-quality dial lockbox with great reviews that can be used for commercial purposes.
Holds: 3 Keys
MasterLock 5400D – The highest rated model on Amazon. Even though it’s a wheel model key storage lock box, customer reviews agree it will still get the job done.
Holds: 5+ Keys
Size: 9.2 x 5.2 x 1.9 inches
Vault Locks 5000 – A Large, heavy duty lockbox that can store multiple keys & key cards and also offers up to 10,000 different combinations.
Holds: 5+ Keys
Size: 6.2 x 4.1 x 1.4 inches
Lockbox & Key Safe Storage Pointers & Things To Look Out For
Tips to Make your Lockbox Safer
Key lock boxes are already pretty secure (a sturdy lockbox can usually withstand about 45 minutes of banging with a hammer), but Airbnb hosts should still be cautious and take steps to mitigate any potential risk:
- Change the lock code often (ideally after each guest leaves).
- For those living in an apartment building or complex. Keep your lockbox somewhere beyond the first gate or door, so that it isn’t accessible from the street.
- For those living in a private residence, keep your outdoor lock box out of sight from the main road. This means either attaching a small lock box to the side of the house, the backyard fence, the garden, or even to the house or apartment of a trusted neighbor down the road/hallway. In fact, some people go as far as to hide their box under stealth containers, like a fake rock in the yard.
If you live in an urban area with a lot of foot or car traffic, then don’t worry too much about being discrete. A good lockbox takes a lot of loud effort to break into, and for burglars without locksmith experience, it would be no more efficient nor subtle than simply breaking down the door.
Installing Lockboxes (On the Wall vs. Looping)
A door lock box is installed with either screws or a metal loop around a door/railing. While attaching your lockbox to a solid wall takes more time and equipment (normally an electric screwdriver), it’s also more secure than looping the box around the door handle like a padlock. The metal loops are usually weaker and easy enough to break with a set of construction tools.
Harsh weather conditions like extreme cold, snow, or rain can jam or freeze a lockbox and prevent it from opening. In most cases this can be prevented by buying a flip-open cover for your lockbox.
Most customer complaints about lockboxes revolve around people accidentally locking themselves out of the box before inputting a passkey. This kind of blunder can usually be avoided by leaving your guest clear, specific instructions about using the box. If it’s a recurring problem, invest in a lockbox that doesn’t lock unless a key has been inputted, and consider leaving a backup or emergency key with a neighbor.
Hidden Lockbox Storage
It sounds a little childish for a tech-savvy micro-entrepreneur, but if you hide your key in a good location that hits the perfect balance between easy-to-describe and hard-to-find, it can be a viable option. A lot of people hide a key as a back-up plan in case they can’t depend on any of their neighbors to hold a spare key, or they don’t want to bother installing a lockbox. As a result, there’s a whole industry dedicated to key disguise, including fake rocks and fake sprinklers that can be placed in nondescript locations in the front yard.
Best Hiding Places:
The best hiding places are the unexpected ones:
- A neighbor’s yard
- Tucked away in the backyard or behind a bush/fence
- Somewhere along the side of the house
- In or under a plant pot
- Under a rock among many others
- In or under a garden ornament
Choose a hiding place that’s catered to your property:
If you have a garden – Use a planter, bush, or even a fountain as your hiding spot. Backyard gardens accessible by a side gate are good because they’re off the main street.
If you have a tree – Try tucking your lockbox either behind the tree or in a branch where you don’t think it’ll fall. Be careful not to place it somewhere your guests will have to work hard to try to access.
If you have a porch – If there’s any space beneath it, that’s usually a safe bet. You can even attach alockbox to the bottom of one of the porch stairs. Basket hanging plants or any plant in a pot are a great camouflage for key sets and lockboxes – the more leaves and coverage provided the better.
If you have a lawn – Fake sprinklers are great in lawns because they’re subtle, but also easy to find if you know what you’re looking for. Remember to hide within reason. If a key is so well hidden that a guest can’t find it, then it’s as good as lost.
Helping your guests locate the key:
Pulling this off mainly requires a good set of instructions. Include a vivid description of the spot, and try to trace the path from the porch of your house to the key’s hiding place. Here’s a template to give you an idea of how a set of find-the-key instructions should look:
How To Find Our Front Door Key:
Hello! Thanks again for booking with us, we’re so happy you’re coming to stay at our home! Unfortunately, we won’t be home to greet you when you arrive, but here are clear instructions on how to get into the property. The key to the front door is hidden in our backyard. When you arrive at the address, go around the left side of the house and you’ll find a wooden gate leading into the back. It’s unlocked, and don’t worry, the neighbors know you’re coming so they won’t look at you funny when you slip through.
Our key is hidden in a fake sprinkler that looks like this:
You’ll find the fake sprinkler container just to the left of the sliding glass door, and just to the right of the small fountain up against the back wall of the house.
Unscrew the lid, and the key marked “MG” opens the front door.
For Property Managers Ready to Get Serious
If you’re a professional property manager looking to take your business to the next level, it may be time to stop hiding your keys in the backyard and consider investing in an efficient, tech-forward key exchange solution or do away with keys entirely and adopt a keyless entry system. Guesty integrates directly with several key exchange and keyless entry systems such as Vikey, Lynx Automation, RemoteLock, Sharebox and KeyNest.
Check out our Marketplace to learn more about our third-party integrations and request a free demo of Guesty’s software to discover the many other ways we can help take your property management business to new heights.