Guests order locksmith to get inside unit and rekey without permission- has this happened to you?

Hi there!

Had a very bizarre situation happen today and wanted to see how anyone would handle it.

After today’s check out, I arrived to the unit to notice that my key was not working properly on the lock. However, the key in the lockbox that is left for guests worked perfectly. After a few minutes of being puzzled I finally came to realize that the keys did not match and in fact the guest key was new and obviously went to a newly installed lock on the door. I instantly became very concerned that someone was planning on breaking into the unit and tried to pull a trick on us.

So I reach out to the guest stating I noticed there is a key that does not match ours and asked if they had problems with the lock. She responded with “my wife had to wiggle it a bit but she made sure everything was lock and they keys are in the lockbox.” So I explained again that I’m very confused because we now have a new key and lock and something is not adding up. No response, so I threaten to make a police report and need to know when they vacated the premises. She calls me freaking out telling me they did not switch the lock, but then after some rambling she starts coming up with a story about how they left keys in an Uber and had a locksmith come to let them in, but they got the keys back from the Uber and placed them in the lockbox. Still not admitting to the lock being replaced.

I asked her for the locksmith information and he called me immediatly with the complete story. The guests were belligerent drunk at 3:30 AM on Monday and called the locksmith to let them into their car. However, when he got there they asked him to let them into the building (there is a locked door to the bulding and another locked door to the apartment). They refused to let him contact us for permission but showed him their confirmation for the reservation. So he makes them a copy of the building key and then switches the lock to the door so they can access the unit.

No mention of this to us at all from the guests. Come to find out from the building owner the bulding door lock had to be replaced after the incident because it no longer functioned properly AND now we had to rekey the unit door lock.

I called Airbnb about the incident and all they offered was to open a resolution case so we can bill her for the lock. I asked them if they would suspend her account for tampering with the unit security and they said no and they’ll just flag her in case another incident occurs.

I am in shock and appalled by this whole thing. 1. The locksmith had no right to do any of that without our permission 2. The guest still will not admit guilt or apologize and 3. Airbnb is going to let her book another place in the future after this!

The locksmith company offered to pay for the locks but were very rude and defensive of the situation so I’m not entirely sure how it will go once I send the invoice for payment. I have no faith in the guest handling this either.

Highly doubt this has happened to anyone else but am curious, if so. Would also like to know if anyone has any other suggestions on anything else we should do?

I’m still considering the police report because I’ve discovered the guest has our old key and a copy of the building key with her now. Is that too much?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read!

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Since you aren’t on the premises you need to have a video doorbell, CCTV system or some sort of smart locks to monitor this. I never have to ask a guest when they arrived or left. Also, with a smart lock you don’t need keys and you get more control over your rental.

In the US it’s usually very easy to make a report online. I wouldn’t expect the police to do anything but at least it’s there on the record should the occasion arise to need it.

Interestingly in most places if guests were planning something nefarious they could just buy a new lock at Lowe’s and install it, they wouldn’t have to call a locksmith to participate in the plan. As for Airbnb, I’m not surprised they aren’t doing anything based on my reading of this forum. I agree locksmiths shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing but that’s not Airbnb’s fault. I see that as the main problem, the locksmith.

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The locksmith was definitely in the wrong for messing with the building lock especially since he didn’t have permission from the bldg. owner/mgmt. I would accept responsibility (they were your guests) and pay the cost of the damaged locks. I would then seek compensation from the guest to hopefully re-coop your money you had to pay the bldg. management. I would also seek out a written statement from the locksmith that you could provide as back-up to the resolution center. A copy of the “bill” that should show the date, time and who placed the call giving you proof that it was guest who had the locksmith out. Write a true and factual review, although this guest was a pain, it was the locksmith who was actually in error in judgement. I do have a question, did the guest ever attempt to contact you regarding having difficulties entering the apartment? or do you have quiet hours that you can not be disturbed? I am not judging you but this situation is why I always answer any call from my guests no matter the hour and no matter the reason.


In a possibly related story… A friend of mine told me he rented an Airbnb in Paris. He and his husband went out and lost the Airbnb key. They called the host and she said she didn’t have a spare key. That’s amazing but maybe she was pissed and thought that was the right thing to say. So they called Airbnb and Airbnb put them up in a very much nicer hotel room than the Airbnb they had and paid for it.

These guests should have contacted you first of course and then if you had no spare then punted to Airbnb where you would probably be out just as much money. Their solution was really awful but never should have had a chance.

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I wish we could go the smart lock route, but we do not own the building. We’ve recommended it to the owner but he is very set on what he has set up already for the door locks. Highly doubt he’d go for a security system because of cost and the fact that he also has long term tennants living in this building. This would 100% be his call.

The locksmith company already will cover the cost because they admitted they were in the wrong.

We have noted in multiple places to call us if they need anything. I have answered many of times at late hours but these guests did not even try. They specifically told the locksmith to not bother us because they thought it would be an inconvenience to us. Little did they know what stress it brought that they went that route instead.

They failed to mention the whole thing. I asked after check out about the lock being different and she still wouldn’t tell us until I scared her with the police report.

if you have a regular deadbolt you can easily use the August Smart Lock without it even being visible outside the unit. It is simply a replacement for the thumb turn. It can be removed and put back to normal if/when you leave (or for inspections if you are that worried about it). If he insists on guests having metal keys for the main building entrance you might consider asking him to pay to add the August Smart Lock for those that don’t have metal keys. That way the regular residents can use their metal keys and your Airbnb guests can use their phone. My guess is that the residents will prefer using that as well. Perhaps ask him for a one month trial even. If he still doesn’t like it then just return the original thumb turn and carry on but at least you all tried. And maybe then he will get enough of the residents asking for it back that you are not the lone voice…


SMH…there are some people who just really try your patience. I didn’t mean to infer you weren’t there for your guests I have just heard so many times that some “hosts” have times that are blocked out that they turn their phones off or ignore phones and this is just one of the reasons why you should be available to your guests in case they need to contact you. These individuals are beyond hope and I would leave the worse review I could staying in TOS but be as scathing as you can.

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Interesting suggestion. I have not seen the August smart lock yet. I will look into it. Thanks!

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Edit as I had meant to say to say ask him if you can pay for it. That will reduce his resistance and then he can pay you for it if he keeps it maybe…or not, tell him it’s your gift for him letting you try it and seeing that it was good for his residents too.