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Property Management Blog

Key Control

Key Control

Property managers play a crucial role in the efficient management of rental properties, acting as intermediaries between property owners and tenants. One fundamental responsibility of property managers is ensuring the safety and maintenance of the property. Holding a spare key to each property they manage is a critical element of fulfilling this responsibility effectively. However, this practice also comes with its own set of liabilities and potential downsides. Here, we explore the reasons why property managers should keep a key for each property and the implications of not doing so, especially in emergency situations.

 Importance of Keeping a Key

1. Emergency Access: In emergencies, immediate access to the property can be crucial. Emergencies such as fires, gas leaks, or major water leaks require swift action to prevent extensive damage and ensure tenant safety. Having a key readily available allows property managers or emergency services to enter the property quickly and address the situation, potentially saving lives and reducing property damage.

2. Maintenance and Repairs: Routine maintenance and urgent repairs are an integral part of property management. Access to a key enables property managers to conduct inspections, perform maintenance, or facilitate repairs without delay. This is particularly important when tenants are unavailable to provide access.

3. Tenant Lockouts: Tenants may occasionally lock themselves out of their property. Having a spare key allows the property manager to provide immediate assistance, enhancing tenant satisfaction and avoiding the cost and hassle of calling a locksmith.

4. End of Tenancy Procedures: At the end of a lease, property managers need to conduct final inspections and prepare the property for new tenants. Having a key ensures that property managers can access the property once it is vacated, even if the departing tenant fails to return their keys.

Liabilities and Downsides of Not Keeping a Key

Not maintaining a spare key can lead to several liabilities and operational challenges:

1. Delayed Emergency Response: Without immediate access to a property during emergencies, the damage can escalate, leading to higher repair costs and potential liability claims from tenants for inadequate emergency responses. In some jurisdictions, property managers may be legally required to ensure access in such cases, and failing to do so can result in legal repercussions.

2. Increased Costs and Inconvenience: Lack of a spare key can complicate routine maintenance and repairs, especially if tenants are not home to provide access. This can delay necessary work, potentially worsening property conditions and leading to greater long-term repair costs. Additionally, in the event of a tenant lockout, the absence of a spare key can incur unnecessary expenses, such as locksmith fees.

3. Tenant Dissatisfaction: Inefficient handling of lockouts, maintenance, or emergency situations due to the absence of a spare key can lead to tenant dissatisfaction. This could impact tenant retention rates, potentially resulting in higher vacancy rates and reduced income for property owners.

4. Legal and Security Concerns: Holding keys also comes with the responsibility of ensuring their security. Mismanagement of keys can lead to unauthorized access and security breaches, potentially putting tenants at risk and exposing property managers to liability for negligence.


While keeping a spare key for each property managed is advantageous for facilitating emergency access, maintenance, and enhancing tenant services, it also necessitates careful handling to mitigate associated risks. Property managers must implement stringent key management policies to ensure keys are securely stored and accounted for, thus balancing the benefits of accessibility with the need to maintain security and tenant privacy. Overall, the practice of keeping a spare key, when managed properly, is an essential component of effective property management.