Chicago Property Management Best Practices – Key Management

Chicago Property Management Best Practices – Key Management

This post is about keys.  Specifically, the keys to your Chicago apartment building.

Perhaps you just closed on an apartment building (congrats!) or you’ve owned it for years, you can’t conduct timely and effective maintenance, leasing, or any other on-site activity unless you have a handle on your keys. Delays and inefficiencies will cost you time and money.

Surely this seems obvious, but key issues are more common than you might think. We see them frequently.

There’s a variety of key organization techniques, products, master key systems, and so on; but with this post, we’ll cover the fundamentals. Applying them will save you time, and headaches, and increase productivity.


1. Test your keys and clearly label them:

Make time to visit the property and test your keys on every lock.   Then, clearly label or identify the key with a key tag, sticker, or stamp.   Make sure they’re legible and easily understood.    The hardest part is making time to do this – but know that it will save you tons more time down the road.   Eventually, you’ll need to do this anyway, so get it out of the way now.

For testing apartment doors, send 48-hour advance notice to your tenants that you’re doing a routine key audit and will only be testing the locks.  This is so they’re not startled when they hear someone tinkering with their lock.

Tip:  Do not use the full address on any label or tag.    This is a safety precaution in case keys are lost, misplaced, or stolen.


2. Keep your keys organized and in a secure location:

Keep your tested and labeled keys on a key ring, in a key cabinet, or on a labeled peg board.   Avoid keeping them in a box, container, or somewhere they’d become jumbled or mixed up.

Make sure they’re kept somewhere secure and locked up.   A good place would be if the building has a secure room not accessible to tenants (management room, boiler room, etc.)  Just make sure tenants cannot access it.    Avoid keeping them in a car or carrying them around with you.


3. Make copies and keep a traveling set:

Make a duplicate set or sets of your organized keys.    This ensures you have a spare in case they’re lost, and it’s helpful when you need to provide a vendor or resident with a key.   Always have a backup or backup.

Have a dedicated set of keys you use when traveling to the properties.   Ideally, it would just contain a common area or building keys, then you can access the apartment keys on-site at the building.    In any event though, keep a working or traveling set, and a master set.


We hope you found these helpful, and we encourage you to utilize them.  They’re fundamental operating principles here at Root Realty.

Since our start in 1983, we’ve been committed to providing Chicagoland apartment owners and investors with effective, uncomplicated, and transparent property management services.

If you own apartments in Chicago and are looking for help with property management, we’d love to hear from you!    My email and phone number are below – looking forward to it.

Danny Sider

Director of Property Management – Root Realty, Inc. — 773.904.1382