Guest unable to use smart lock

I have a guest who’s been here about a week and is having all sorts of problems with my smart lock. I use the Nest Yale lock which is completely keyless and requires only a code. The first night she arrived her code wouldn’t work at all for either of us. I was home and let her in, then I factory reset the lock and it worked fine for several days. Yesterday she messaged me in a panic that she couldn’t get into the house, and I was able to let her in remotely through the lock’s app. I ended up replacing the lock altogether because doing a factory reset was clearly still causing her problems. I tested her code about 10 times over the next few hours while she was out, and never had any issues. She finally came home late and told me that she had to enter her code a couple times to get it to work.

I’m starting to wonder if this is an issue with the way she’s using the lock rather than a hardware/software issue (perhaps she’s impatient and trying to force the door open before the code has time to register??). She’s here for a few weeks and paying good money but I can’t keep staying up past midnight worrying about whether she’ll get into the house, or worrying about her being upset about not having an easy way into the house. So far she’s been pleasant and said it’s not my fault, but I could see her getting upset or dinging me in the review if it keeps happening. I suppose it’s possible the lock is intermittently not working and just happens to not work when she’s using it, but the fact that it works for me and other guests all the time is pointing away from an issue with the lock itself.

Any suggestions on how to handle this? Has anyone had issues like this with the Nest Yale lock? Next time I see her I think I’ll ask her to show me how she’s entering her code in case she’s doing it wrong. I’ve given her a physical key to my back door as a backup, but don’t want to make that a regular thing with other guests. Smart locks are suppose to make hosting easier, but with this guest it’s just causing unnecessary stress for both of us!

We have a different brand of keyless locks.

Yes, a face-to-face tutorial in which you show her and then she shows you that she can operate the lock is ideal. Make sure she knows how to unlock it from the outside and lock it from the inside. Also how to unlock it from the inside and lock it after she closes the door.

Short of that, you can do a tutorial over the phone, where you tell her one button at a time what button to press and when to press the next button.

With our locks, I can think of four possible problems:

  1. The lock was already unlocked. The guest enters their code and stands there waiting to hear it unlock. It doesn’t do that, so the guest assumes it didn’t work, without even trying to open the door.

  2. Our lock takes a second or two to physically unlock. One or two people have not understood the need to wait the second or two for the lock to work. They panic and start pushing buttons again, which causes the lock to stop trying to open.

  3. Or they don’t press the buttons on our lock firmly enough for them to register. Our lock buttons light up when they’re pressed. No light = button not pressed well enough.

  4. With our lock, people enter the code and then press a big white button. If they have problems with our lock, it’s mostly because they forget to press the big white button.

Even with those potential pitfalls, almost every guest we’ve had has operated our lock successfully.


Thank you @RebeccaF! These sound like the problems I’ve had with some prior guests using the lock, but they all figure it out after a try or two. This guest wanted to go straight to bed after her international flight so I never got to show her how to use it. I send step-by-step check-in instructions and always try to show guests how to use the lock in person, but I haven’t done so with this guest because she seemed to figure it out for the first several days of her stay. Now with her having problems again, I’ll make sure to give an in-person tutorial.

Is there any way to send a video check-in guide? I see that you can send pictures through Airbnb, but can I upload a video to YouTube and attach that? There’s some nuances about the lock that may be difficult to describe in a written list–such as waiting until you hear the chime and the lights disappear after entering your code before opening the door.

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You might want to check the battery. Our locks tend to be super finicky when the batteries are low. So I might be able to get in, but my less than patient husband would not be able to get it to work.


The only way I know to send a video is to text or email it to your guest. I don’t think you can send a video on the Airbnb platform.

I’ll be interested to see if someone knows another way.

Also locks can act up in the cold.

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They are probably using it too quickly and “tapping” not “pressing”. You may want to put together a “how to use laminated card” - that you can leave hanging there.

Here are a couple of laminators - we have the bigger one, but need it for various things

This could also be the issue. I saw one guest recently tap her code rapidly and then literally pound on the keypad and try to force the handle when it didn’t work. The fix was just to put the right amount of pressure on the keypad. I’ve already put a step by step walkthrough in my check-in instructions which works for most people, but I plan to make a video walkthrough as well (hopefully Airbnb will let me send a link to a Youtube video, otherwise I can text it by phone), but your laminated card is also a nice idea. I’ve been wanting to make a laminated sheet for a house manual for a while now and that would be a good one to include.

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When I put in a keyless lock I was tempted to put in one that would send the code but I was concerned about wifi, batteries dying etc.

I compromised and purchased keyless locks that I have to put the code in and I usually put in the guests phone number but do have a few backup codes just in case I can’t get to the lock.

Both the front door key code lock and the key code lock to the their suite have a backup key that I keep in a lockbox on the front porch. That way if they guest can’t use it or if there’s a fail, I can just tell them how to access the key. (There’s a note that gives the fees if they keys aren’t returned and also in my house rules.)

Never had to use it so far but it gives me peace of mind knowing have an old school way to let the guests in.

Front Door

Suite Door

Lock Box

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Yes to doing an in-person walkthrough! 90% of the time it’s a simple fix.

I’ve also had the guests who push too lightly, or hit get impatient and mash buttons. Some try to use the “lock” button as an “enter” button, which just undoes all their hard work entering a code! :grin:

Having a keyed backup is a great option. It’s come in handy twice for battery/code failures, and once for a guy who just couldn’t “get” the keypad, in spite of several tutorials. (Let’s just say he was enjoying the breweries!)

@Allison_H Based on all the responses here I have come to the conclusion that this is a user error with this guest, as I have seen all the same types of mistakes made by guests when I do an in-person tutorial. I do my best to greet guests in person when I can or at least shortly after their arrival to try to limit problems like this.

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The various types you gave links for are good, except for the lockbox. I don’t see well enough to use any lockbox I’ve tried. There must be others like me. I can use keypads because I can count the buttons.

Yes ours are the same. So we change them well before the batteries run out so that guests are never inconvenienced by it.

We have simple keypads (Kwikset, no app) and they beep once the numbers have been punched in to let the guests know that they are now unlocked. You can also hear a short whirring noise when they lock or unlock.

Yet another reason why I like to do the house tour is to show guests how to operate the keyless entry pad. You’d think it would be a no-brainer but as others have said above, guests can get impatient with them.

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I’m going to use these words in my description—that’s the perfect description of mine! “You will hear a beep after each number is pressed correctly. Wait until you hear the short whirring noise after entering your code before you turn the doorknob.”


The lock box is a back up if the guests have issue with the keypad. The lock box is really big and the numbers are easy to read. I’ve never had to use the code for the guest. It’s mainly for my peace of mind just in case.

That has been my problem here, at temps below -15 C. It is never a dry cold…
I have to keep on top of replacing batteries more often.
Are you in a cold place, @GardenFairy? A humid place?

If you consider high 60’s in the winter cold, of course! :crazy_face: No, I don’t think the mild weather here is going to cause any issues. And the humidity isn’t a big factor either.

High 60s in the winter. Low humidity. I love your place, wherever it is!
I think you have great answers here, so never mind. I will go back to freezing my fingers while proactively replacing lock batteries at 15 below zero…

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I would gladly trade your broken lock for some warm weather.

My Schlage smart lock is acting up for my current guests, I am worried that the big storm we had two days ago has caused water damage to the components. It is under a porch but we had really heavy wind and rains here.

I had to give them an actual key as backup, and will have to take the lock apart tomorrow after they leave to inspect it. Fingers crossed I can get it fixed before my next guests on Monday!