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On a recent short-break, I was impressed with the hand-over of keys. The owner did not need to be there, as there was a metal box with a keypad. We were given the code, opened the box and there were the keys!
The owner did not need to be on hand as we did not know what time we would arrive, but she knew we would be able to gain access.
As always, if I see something that I think could save landlords trouble, I thought about it quite a lot. Of course, I would expect every landlord to take a new tenant to a property, talking through security features, instruction booklets for any white goods; discuss appropriate times to ring the landlord for emergencies etc. and discuss arrangements for paying the rent, regular inspections etc. Landlords who quibble about spending time at the start really deserve what they get!
Even the best landlords, though, who have taken all the recommended actions, may still get that telephone call at 1.00am from an inebriated tenant who somehow ‘can’t find his keys’. The landlord has no option, if he doesn’t want the tenant breaking in, but to get up and go out to let him in.
Needless to say, there will be sharp words to the tenant, probably met with apologies and giggling. The landlord returns to his bed, the tenant collapses on his. Most landlords would feel one disturbed night is one too many, especially if it is season of goodwill – landlords and their partners are unlikely to be feeling much good will.
Which brings me back to the box with the keypad. The tenant will still need to ring you, but it is much easier to give him the code and let him sort himself out. You will obviously need to change the code when the key is returned to the box, but it is much simpler to do that than get up and go into the frosty night to ensure your tenant can get in.
Of course, this presupposes that the tenants are reasonable people; holiday makers are likely to have paid a far larger deposit than a tenant would and therefore more likely to behave and not attempt to rip the box off the wall; tenants could be another matter!
I know how much landlords have to spend on their properties, so hesitate to suggest something that will cost more money, but if you’ve never had to get up in the middle of the night to sort a tenant out, you’re very lucky. If you had, it might be worth considering a box with a spare key in it, should it happen again.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon