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How to Keep Key Control From Burning Out Apartment Staff

“Property management can feel grueling right now,” said one member of the Multifamily Insiders forum. As a property management professional, your already busy, stressful job has become even more so since the COVID-19 crisis hit in March. Now, you’re facing increasing pressure from sanitation protocols, eviction moratoriums, complaints from stressed-out residents, and more.

The last thing you want is to make your job more challenging with ineffective key control practices. So what can you do?

Blog graphic showing list of effective key control practices
Automate Your Key Control Logs

Do you update a key control log every time you check out a key? Whenever an employee removes a key, it’s critical to have a verifiable record of when they took it, why they needed it, and when it was returned. To cut down on time-consuming manual steps, manage keys with an electronic key control system that automatically authenticates users and records when each key is removed.

Take advantage of features like automatic reporting and alerts that’ll let you know when someone hasn’t returned a key.

Not only are these best practices for key security, but they’ll cut down on employee miscommunications and inaccurate data. You’re likely feeling the pressure of additional administrative responsibilities like filling out sanitization logs, and consolidating or automating tasks will alleviate some of that burden.

Don’t Lose Track of Keys

Since March, the multifamily industry has gone through a digital revolution. To accommodate social distancing, more properties are offering virtual and self-guided tours, paperless leasing, and more.

In certain situations, though, physical access is necessary — maybe someone wants to see an apartment for themselves before signing a lease, or maybe a vendor needs to do work in a unit.

Although we’re living in extraordinary circumstances that require stopgap processes, be careful that you don’t let key control issues interfere with your operations. When you need to use a physical key to give someone access to an apartment while following social distancing measures, there are a few approaches you could take:

  1. Leave the apartment door locked and put the key in a predetermined location, such as under a mat. The downside of this option is that the key isn’t secure. There’s also the risk that the wrong person could find and use the key. If you have a security camera with a view of the door, you may feel more comfortable with this approach.
  2. Unlock the unit a few minutes before the appointment time. To avoid leaving the door unlocked for an extended period of time, you’ll want to encourage the person to be prompt and let them know how long they can be in the apartment. With this option, you maintain control of the key, but leaving the unit unlocked is, of course, a liability. Again, if you have a security camera, you may feel more comfortable with this option.
  3. Let the visitors in yourself. This allows you to maintain control of the key without leaving apartments unlocked and unattended. To protect all parties, everyone should remain at least 6 feet apart and wear facial coverings.

No matter how you manage apartment access, communicate with the rest of the on-site team about scheduled appointments, revised policies, etc. Give visitors clear instructions — preferably in writing — about where to go, what to do, and how long they can be in the apartment.

Set up Reminders of Safety Protocol

Health and safety protocols have gone through rapid changes, and it can be hard to keep up with them all. To help everyone remember your property’s guidelines for health and safety guidelines, set up reminders in conspicuous places.

For example, when someone checks out a key from your key control system, consider setting a pop-up reminder with guidelines for entering a resident’s apartment (wear facial coverings, stay 6 feet away from others, etc.). You can also print out guidelines for any cleaning and sanitization procedures and hang them next to your key control station.

Quick Tip

If you need help setting up pop-up notes on your KeyTrak system, please contact our support team. Note that the pop-up will appear for every key someone checks out, so if you check out multiple keys at once, the pop-up will appear multiple times.

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