3 May 2021
If you’re an AirBnB host, you want the check-in process to be as smooth as possible, but the first challenge is how to let your guests in the front door. There’s lots of different ways to grant your guests access, so what are the best locking solutions for AirBnB hosts?
If you’re renting out a unit or apartment on AirBnB or some other short-term accommodation site, sometimes your options for placing a key safe can be limited. Many hosts for these properties leave the keys in a letterbox with a combination lock, giving their guest the code when they check in.
But MLAA members are increasingly reporting instances of thieves using mobile phone cameras stuck into letterbox slots to find these keys. The average letterbox is unfortunately only of light duty construction and is relatively easy to break open.
Key safes or lockboxes are built much tougher and offer a better option, if you have somewhere on the property to secure them. There are plenty of cases of these being forced open as well, however, as today’s thieves know exactly what’s inside.
Then there’s the ever-present potential that unscrupulous guests will run your keys down to the local key cutter to make copies.
Traditional keys, while a great security solution for a normal residence, clearly aren’t the best option for AirBnB hosts. A traditional key will always present a risk unless it is in the possession of the property’s owner.
Thankfully, there are some great alternatives.
Restricted key systems
The simplest upgrade from a set of traditional keys is a restricted key system. These are extremely common for commercial users, and while they’re not often found in residential settings, they’re a good option for short-term accommodation.
Restricted key systems use special key blanks that are not available on the open market, but only to reputable locksmiths. Each restricted key system is unique, and is only able to be copied by the locksmith that created it or with their authorisation. The local hardware store can’t duplicate these keys.
Restricted keys can also offer customisable access, meaning different keys grant different levels of access. For example, an AirBnB host with multiple properties could have a ‘master’ key that unlocks all of them, but guests are given a key that opens only the property they’re staying at.
Electronic access systems
There are an ever-increasing profusion of electronic access systems available on the market. These range from straightforward keypad systems to internet-enabled smart locks or high-end systems designed for large commercial users.
A good electronic access system is arguably the best option for AirBnB hosts. There are a variety of systems that allow hosts to issue guests with fixed-term access, either a digital key sent to their phone or a code that expires at the end of their stay. There are even some systems that integrate directly into apps like AirBnB, HomeAway, Vrbo or FlipKey. Another advantage is that many electronic access control systems have an audit feature, so it is easy to know who accessed which door at what time.
Electronic access systems are a bit more expensive and not every locksmith installs them, but the payoff is no risk of keys being lost, stolen or copied.