Which Lock Should I Buy for My Rental?

One of the logistics we had to figure out when we started as Airbnb hosts was how to exchange keys with our guests. Our first Airbnb was a studio condo located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. Guests would travel from the airport to our condo via public transit, Marta. The walk from the train station to the condo was three easy blocks. Our condo was conveniently located near all the popular attractions like Fox Theatre, High Museum of Art and Margaret Mitchell House. Restaurants and bars were all within walking distance. Guests would arrive at various times of the day and night and we couldn’t meet them to exchange a key. Also, there wasn’t a place outside our door to hang a lockbox. Enter August Smart Lock.

Doesn’t that fire red look so pretty? Outside the condo, it looks like a regular deadbolt and inside the condo, you can turn the circle to lock or unlock your door. We had the first generation August Smart Lock and it required batteries and a wi-fi connection. Prior to guests checking in, we would instruct them to download the August app. All they needed to do was to open up the app, place it right next to the deadbolt and watch the circle in the app change from red to green. We would leave a physical key for the door handle and garage access card on the counter for them to use during their stay. When they checked out they would leave the key and card on the counter and use the app again to lock the door. We liked the August Smart Lock because we could easily manage/schedule access, view history and we would know when guests checked in and checked out.

Did guests have any issues using the August Smart Lock?

Surprisingly no, well except for one guest. 99% of our guests, domestic and international, had no issues using the August Smart Lock and we never had any problems with guests locking themselves out, losing our key or losing our access card. We were fortunate but we knew our process wasn’t foolproof. So for the one domestic guest that did have trouble, Victor ended up meeting him in the middle of the night to help him out.

August Smart Lock is ideal if need a lock that looks like a regular deadbolt outside of the door and you can’t use a lockbox.

3rd generation August Smart Lock + Connect works with Alexa retails for $259

Additional Lock Options for Your Rental

For our subsequent Airbnbs we used several different locks and thought it might be helpful to share our experience with each of them as well.

Using a Physical Key and Master Lock

A physical key is basic. We know. But we prioritized other amenities to enhance the guest experience and decided that we would reinvest earnings and buy a smart lock at a later time. Although it’s more economical there are a few manual things we had to do to manage it. We would reset the code to the Master Lock for each guest. This didn’t seem to be a problem for us because we’re already at the property doing our walkthroughs. So you just place the key inside, close the Master Lock and scramble. No batteries required. Bam. Easy and done. In this case, we relied on the Nest Thermostat Home/Away settings to indicate when guests have checked in and checked out.

Did guests have any issues using a physical key and Master Lock?

In our experience we had one guest that locked himself out and a second guest who overstayed several hours after check-out and she didn’t return the key. For the first incident, our family was on the way to dinner. Just as we entered the restaurant our guest called us and we left immediately to unlock the door for them. The second incident required us to change our locks completely.

Using a physical key and Master Lock is ideal for an economical, short-term solution. However, to protect your property and future guests, we do not recommend using this option very long.

Physical key copies ranges between $1.50-$2.50. Master Lock $23

Schlage Keyless Lock

After a guest didn’t return the physical key, we decided to purchase a Schlage Keyless Lock because we already knew how to use it. We had another guest checking in soon and didn’t have a lot of time to experiment and learn a new smart lock. There’s a bit of a manual process. You enter a master code and follow a series of instructions to add/delete codes. Initially we took a picture of the instructions with our phones because we couldn’t remember the sequence. However, we’ve done it so many times now that we don’t need the picture anymore. We always change codes between guests during our walkthroughs. It does requires batteries but the convenient thing is that the door automatically locks after five seconds. Here, we also had to rely on the Nest thermostat Home/Away settings to let us know when a guest has checked in and checked out.

Did guests have any issues using the Schlage Keyless Lock?

Nope. Not at all. It’s very user-friendly and we instruct our guests to enter their personal code, wait for the light to turn green and then open the door. We manage codes in between guests when we perform our walkthroughs. Door was closed and locked every single time and we didn’t have to worry about the retrieving a key.

Schlage Keyless Lock is ideal for situations where you do not want to use a physical key and Master Lock or you’re not ready to invest in a smart lock yet.

Schlage Keyless Lock $106

Yale x Nest Key-Free Smart Deadbolt

We saved the best for last. Yale x Nest Key-Free Smart Deadbolt is by far our favorite. We think it’s a win-win for both hosts and guests.

Benefits for Airbnb hosts:

  • Set up unique codes for each guest
  • Schedule access by day and time
  • History of when deadbolt is locked/unlocked
  • Receive notification when lock has been tampered
  • Unlock door for guests via app
  • If you are already using Nest products then all devices are in one app for you

Benefits for Airbnb guests:

  • No need to carry a key
  • If there are multiple guests staying everyone uses the assigned code instead of exchanging the key or utilizing the lockbox
  • Just press Yale to lock door
  • Auto locks after 10 minutes
  • Unlock via numeric entry or app (we instruct all our guests to use numeric entry so they don’t need to install an app)

There are a lot of pros for sure but we wanted to share some things we had to adjust. Yale x Nest Key-Free Smart Deadbolt requires the Nest Connect to connect to wi-fi. We wanted to place it close to the door but out of reach. Actually it worked out great for us because we plugged it in the newly installed electrical outlet for our Nest Cam Outdoor. It requires batteries and if they run low then you can a quick charge with a 9V battery. Since we have several smart devices connected to our wi-fi, we had to increase our internet package to have better connection for our smart devices and for our guests.

Did guests have any issues using the Yale x Nest Key-Free Smart Deadbolt?

We’ve been using this for over a year now and we haven’t had any issues. It has all the pros of the Schalge Keyless Lock and better.

Yale x Nest Smart Lock is ideal if you’re ready to invest in a smart lock and already using or plan to use other Nest products. You want to streamline your process and reduce lock management steps.

Yale x Nest Smart Lock $287

We hope you found this post helpful. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think or if you have any questions. Please share if you’re using other locks that you love too!

–Victor & Ann

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