You’re standing at the door of your rented apartment and suddenly, you can’t find your keys. Did you lose them, misplace them, or were they stolen? Have you locked yourself out? One thoughtless moment is all it takes. What now?
Whether it’s your own home or a rented temporary apartment, if you lose a key, it could cost you a lot of money — not to mention effort.
The best advice, of course, is to take care and take appropriate measures beforehand. This will at least prevent you from having to pay for new locks or entire lock systems, and increase the chances of finding the key again.
In our experience, it all starts with the determination to avoid a situation like this. Most temporary tenants will be more attentive and look after their keys carefully.
Lost a key for a furnished apartment?
5 tips to prevent the worst
1.) Take out liability insurance
Everybody should have liability insurance. If you don’t already have it, take out a policy as soon as you rent a furnished apartment. Make sure that key loss is insured in addition to any damage caused by the tenant. The insurance company will then cover all costs resulting from the key loss.
Of course, always read the fine print, especially the information on the liability level. Details can differ from company to company.
2.) Check the key rings for rented furnished apartments
Many keys to temporary apartments are provided with address hangers. Remove this immediately after taking over the apartment. Inscriptions such as e.g. “2nd Floor, 45 Goethe Str.” make it very easy for key thieves.
Rather, choose a distinctive key holder which you can easily describe. Photograph your keys and make sure that the brand and the key number are visible. Without a key hanger and without knowledge of the key number, it may be difficult to identify keys at the lost-and-found office.
3.) Register your apartment keys
There are many private lost-and-found offices specializing in lost or retrieved keys. For a small fee, you can order a key holder with the contact details of the supplier and register your keyring. If you lose the keys and they are found, the finder simply throws them into the next mail-collection box.
After moving out of the furnished apartment, you can continue using the key holder. You just need to change your delivery address, as well as the key numbers.
4.) Keep the number of the key service or locksmith at hand
Save the number of a reliable and fair key service. In case of emergency, always ask about price beforehand.
5.) Notify the landlord, management, and police
If you lose your key, always inform your landlord or the management of the apartment. In the case of theft, you must also submit an affidavit to the police.
What if the key to your furnished flat is lost?
1. Door slammed shut and you can’t get into your apartment
If the door slammed shut on you and left you locked out, there are two possibilities:
You can contact the landlord or the property agent. Avoid making a personal call to your landlord late at night, though. If you cannot reach the landlord, a locksmith is your last option.
But be careful: ask in advance what it will cost. Unfortunately, there are black sheep in this industry who will ask for several hundred euro for picking a lock. During the day, opening a lock costs less than on weekends, on holidays, or at night. For this reason, it may be more convenient to spend the night in the hotel than to call a locksmith at a late hour.
If the key is inside the lock, though, call the locksmith immediately.
2. Lost keys
If you’ve lost your keys, of course, consider when and where you last saw them. Look along the paths you could have walked, check again, and double-check your pockets. Many a key believed to be stolen or lost has often been hidden. 😉 If the key can’t be found, you must take action. A locksmith definitely comes in handy in these situations.
If you don’t have a spare key, or if you have lost not only the key, but also a bag with personal belongings, which might point to the address of your temporary apartment, the lock must of course be replaced. Normally, tenants of a temporary apartment aren’t allowed to change the locks without the consent of the landlord. In this case, however, you have no other option because you have to act immediately.
Nevertheless, you have to inform the landlord no later than the next day. The landlord does not have to accept your new lock and may require it to be replaced before you move out. Especially if it is a key of a locking system. The property management often decides to replace the entire lock system when a key is lost. This can be very expensive. Again, a liability insurance policy comes in handy to replace any damages due to lost keys.
3. Keys stolen
Were your keys or possibly a bag with a wallet, identity card, etc. stolen? First, consider whether a thief can track your address. If so, act quickly. Fill out the police report and change the locks immediately.
Your keys are still gone. What now?
1. 1. Is it worthwhile to keep looking for a lost key?
Yes. Even if the apartment lock was replaced in the mean time? Still yes! The landlord of the rented temporary apartment can, of course, require that you re-install the original lock before moving out. In this case, it’s to your advantage to return all the keys handed out to you, even lost keys.
So, it definitely is worthwhile to keep searching for lost keys.
2. Berlin lost-and-found office – never lose hope!
Perhaps your lost keys have been found. Personal items found in public transportation, for example, land relatively quickly in the Berlin lost-and-found office. As a rule, it only takes a couple of days, but it can take much longer at other lost-and-found offices. As a searcher, you will already be very lucky if the lost key even turns up there.
Calls to the office are not very effective. Phones are seldom answered. You can only search online. You should enter only the key mark in the search mask. If you don’t know the mark, you’ll get an infinite number of hits and won’t be able to limit the search.
3. Key holders registered at private retrieval offices
If you have lost a key, private retrieval agencies can also help. These companies sell key chains with coded information. This allows found keys to be easily traced to the owner. Found keys can simply be deposited in the nearest mailbox without postages and are then sent back to the company that sold them. Here the keys will be traced to the owner and the owner will be contacted. Shortly afterwards, the found key will be sent to the owner.
This service is cheap (about 10-20 euros per key holder). The probability that a finder will deposit a key into a mailbox is greater than
someone handing it in at the lost-and-found office.
Some suppliers: Schlüsselfundbüro Knorr (in Berlin), Code no.com Schlüsselanhänger
More providers are shown in the test comparison
Crocodilian, July 2017