It’s no fun being locked out of your apartment, but it’s bound to happen sooner or later. You walk up to your front door and the key that unlocks your world is nowhere to be found. And where exactly is that handy spare key? Oh, it’s just a few feet away. Inside the hallway junk drawer. You know, inside your apartment.
There’s no need to panic. Everything is under control. Breathe. Chances are that Fido actually isn’t tucked away in the closet quietly feasting away on your new blue suede shoes. But then again, anything’s possible.
Okay, enough with the wisecracks. We’re going to tell you how to prevent this inconvenient dilemma from ever happening, so take notes.
Here’s how to prevent locking yourself out:
Appoint a close family member or friend as your keymaster. This basically involves giving a spare key to someone you trust – a lot. This person should also live nearby for your convenience and theirs. Just keep in mind that if you ever go out of town, that person has full access to your place. Make sure it’s not someone who will come over and pour bleach all over your thrift store treasures if the relationship goes south. Sporadic boyfriends and frenemies need not apply. Tip: the spare key should be distinctive so that it doesn’t get lost in a sea of other keys in a messy junk drawer.
Save important numbers in your phone – landlord, building manager, a local locksmith, apartment maintenance staff, police station, etc.
Never leave a spare key under your welcome mat. It’s so predictable and criminals know to look there.
Giving a key to your neighbor is risky, but it is an option. Keep in mind that even if your neighbor is trustworthy, someone else could gain access to your key without your knowledge. Also, when that neighbor moves out, you may not remember to ask for it back.
Is your smartphone protected by a case that’s hard to remove? It’s the perfect place to hide a key!
Now if all else fails and you still find yourself keyless, here’s what you can do:
If it’s during business hours, a short walk to your leasing office should solve the problem quickly. If your landlord or superintendent is off-site, a phone call should be enough to get them to swing by and let you in. If it’s after business hours, don’t call your landlord. They shouldn’t have to miss out on sweet dreams because of your mistake. Hopefully there’s a neighbor or a trusty friend who lives nearby who you can crash with until morning.
As an apartment renter, you have to be resourceful. Think about this: if a masked robber wanted to break in and steal your Ikea knick knacks, how would he get in undetected? Would he climb (safely) up the fire escape and through an unlocked window? Think like a criminal and you may find yourself inside your apartment in no time.
Calling a locksmith should be your absolute last resort. It could take an hour or more for them to arrive, and of course, it’ll be at a premium price. Before you call, be mindful of whether you are trying to gain access to the building versus your individual apartment unit. Some locksmiths choose not to service shared entrances, and others don’t have the ability. Another thing to keep in mind is that if the locksmith damages any door, frame or lock, you will likely have to foot the bill for that.
Read more: How to Assess the Safety of a New Apartment
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Photo credit: Flickr creative commons / JustinBaeder