Keeping track of keys is hard enough for individuals. Every day, men and women across the country lose their keys and find themselves locked out of their house, car or office. This issue can become significantly more problematic when you own or manage multiple properties. Landlords and property managers oversee several rental units at once. Each home or commercial property can have a variety of keys for front doors, garages, gates and individual offices. When managing a hotel or multi-unit apartment building, key organization can be stored on site in a simple locked cabinet in the management office. But, what should an individual investor or property manager do when their rental units are spread out over many different neighborhoods and cities? At Top Atlanta Locksmith, we help home and business owners in Atlanta, Roswell, Marietta, Smyrna, Suwanee, Sandy Springs and other Metro Atlanta communities. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how to stop losing track of keys and can offer some advice to people who need to organize dozens or even hundreds of keys.
Store them in one location. Though this may seem obvious, it is often the most neglected, especially for individual landlords who are managing their properties on their own from their home. Many landlords begin with only one or two homes, and keeping track of the keys for two extra properties isn’t difficult. Eventually, as their real estate venture grows, they gain more and more properties and start to misplace keys due to having never put an organization plan in action. Even if you only own a single rental property, it’s always a good idea to start out with good habits. Get a key cabinet, key binder or filing cabinet storage system and make sure that all your keys are kept in the same area. When you leave to visit a property for any reason, return the key to its proper location right away. Keeping them in your car console, purse or kitchen counter will make it easy to forget and eventually lose altogether.
Always lock your keys. You may think that anyone with access to your office is trustworthy enough not to steal your property keys. However, making assumptions like this is a huge risk. If someone were to break into one of your properties while tenants are living or working there you could be vulnerable to a lawsuit. If an investigation discovers that the intruder accessed the property because the keys were easy to steal, there’s a good chance that the owner or manager will be held liable. If possible, avoid open wall systems like pegboards or wall hooks. Most key cabinets have locks built in already. If you choose to use a binder, make sure that you keep it in a safe or locked drawer.
There are many methods for coding keys, and the technique you choose depends entirely on your unique needs and situation. If you only manage a handful of properties, a simple color coding system may be the best choice. Tag the keys with the appropriate color and make note of what the key is used for (entry door, front gate, etc.). If you manage keys for more units, then a color system might not be practical. Many choose to tag or stamp a number or code on the key and record the property information in a spreadsheet or software program. This will keep break ins to a minimum, since the person who steals the keys won’t know where the property is located unless they also have access to your computer. Some property management companies have taken the high-tech approach and use keys with RFID chips embedded inside. This makes it easy to identify what the key is used for and can also help locate keys from a distance if they are ever lost or misplaced.
If you are only visiting a single property, then there’s no problem with simply keeping the keys on a keychain on your person. However, sometimes landlords or property managers need to visit multiple homes or offices in a single day and will need to carry several groups of keys. Security remains very important, especially when you’re on the road. If someone breaks into your vehicle, they will have the keys to all your properties. If the address is on the key tags, you’ll have to change the locks on all units to avoid a break in. Even if they don’t have access to the property information, you’ll still need to make duplications of all your keys or get a rekey service if they were your only copy. Avoid the hassle by keeping your keys in a small travel safe and if possible, keep them with you when you leave the car, either in your purse or a briefcase.
Are you an Atlanta area property manager or real estate owner? The experts at Top Atlanta Locksmith are experienced in all varieties of residential and locksmith services including key duplication, rekeying, lock installation, lockout assistance and eviction services. If you need a dependable locksmith company, contact our office today for more information or to schedule your next appointment.