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Getting Keys to Guests: How-To’s & Free Key Receipt Template

Whether you manage your vacation rental remotely or greet every guest at the door, handing over the keys is an important step that will mark the start and end of your guest’s stay. It could even impact the opinions and satisfaction of your guests.

Many owners choose to automate the check-in of their vacation rental and just hand over the keys remotely. If you opt for a remote pass-off, the instructions for handing the keys over should therefore be self-explanatory and concise since you won’t be there to guide your guests through the process.

Be ready for the possibility of your guests losing the keys during their stay. When it does happen, you’ll need to ensure that you have written proof that the keys to your accommodation were already handed over and will have to be correctly returned as planned. This document will also certify that your hosts have read and approved your key collection instructions and must therefore comply with them.


If you don’t have the time to handle all of this yourself then you can delegate this task to a third-party company or a trusted key holder, such as your property manager or a neighbor, to take care of key collection for you.

Check out how to handle key reception between you and your guests by reading our tips and downloading the free key receipt template below. Having an upfront agreement and keeping your guests in the know of the key handling process will save you time down the road.

How to hand over the house keys to guests

There’s no right way to hand over keys, but there are undoubtedly some wrong ways. Having the keys be managed by multiple people or only having a verbal agreement of the key handoff might hurt you and your business later.

Key Receipt for Guests

It is important to have clear and detailed instructions for collecting and handing over the keys. For better key management and to avoid any surprises during your guest’s trip, here are four tips to follow.

1. Give clear key collection instructions

Before passing off or collecting your keys from hosts, it is crucial that they read your key collection instructions to avoid any surprises during check-out. Write down your instructions carefully to manage your keys with complete peace of mind.

Key Exchange Template

Here are the things to consider for your key collection instructions:

  • The date and time of check-in and check-out
  • Instructions for collecting and handing over the keys on arrival and departure
  • The number of keys and their functions
  • The location of the keys or the key lockbox for automatic check-ins
  • The code for the key lockbox if there is one
  • The consequences for loss, theft, or duplication of keys
  • A certificate of delivery of the keys for both the guest and host. Don’t forget about the ready-to-use key receipt template we created to make your life easier. You can download it for free at the end of this article!

2. Use a secure lockbox

Vacation rental lockboxes offer several advantages for guests and hosts. It comes down to finding the lockbox best suited for your vacation rental and that can depend on many factors. For example, if you don’t greet your guests in person, a secure lockbox may be the best solution for your rental.

There are many ways a vacation rental owner can automate the locking process and a big part of that is choosing the right lockbox or service for your vacation rental. A good lock system can make all the difference for the proper functioning of your key collection system.

3. Visibility of keys

It’s not enough to just pick a secure lockbox. You must also find a place visible and easy to find for guests. When your visitors arrive at your vacation rental, it’s important to have your key collection instructions clearly explained before they arrive. If your guests struggle to find the keys during their arrival, you’re setting them up for a bad experience from the very beginning of their stay.

what if airbnb guest loses key

In addition to clear instructions, you must also leave the lockbox or any miscellaneous keys inside the vacation rental in completely visible places to avoid your guests wasting any time looking for the keys. Double-check with your key collection instructions to make sure it’s completely understandable and easy to find for new visitors who have never vacationed at your property.

4. Delegate handoff to a trusted key holder or third-party service

Whether you’re new to the vacation rental industry or have recently purchased your short-term rental, you probably already have quite a bit to plan, manage, and organize, so you don’t have the time to hand the keys over to each and every one of your guests.

Consider delegating this task to a third-party service that specializes in key collection and hand-off. Having someone else take care of your key arrangements leaves you more time to focus on other areas of property management.

What if a guest loses the keys?

The golden rule is to always, always have duplicates. Copies are what prevent these situations from becoming disasters. In the event of loss or theft, a copy of the keys will save you from a costly trip to the locksmith.

Vacation Rental Key Exchange

If you can’t find your extra copy or didn’t make a duplicate, you’ll have to call a locksmith. If the guest’s keyring is labeled with your name or address, you put yourself at serious risk of a possible burglary. If you did label your keys, you’ll need to change the locks as soon as possible. If the keys are unidentifiable then the chances of a break-in are minimal and a simple re-keying would suffice.

As for the guest consequences, it’s up to you to decide if you want to take this from their deposit or outright charge them the amount of damages for the lost keys, locksmith, or time spent, even if it’s just your own.

Download our free receipt of keys form

Now that you’ve got all the tips for having a smooth key handoff to guests, you’re ready to download our free key receipt for guests form! It’s important to choose the best key handling process right for you while keeping in mind the easiest key access for your guests.

Remember, if you don’t have the time you can allocate this task to other employees using our task management tools and also send automated messages regarding key reception to guests. Implementing a consistent key reception system as well as vacation rental software will give you the keys to your business’s success. 


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