Planning

Best Deadbolts for Smooth Airbnb Check Ins

Open door with keys in the deadbolt

Choosing the wrong deadbolt can have major consequences for an Airbnb host. One of the worst experiences you can have as a host is guests that are locked outside your house. I know this from experience.

Your check in process should be simple enough for every guest to understand. The best deadbolt for your Airbnb is one that integrates perfectly into your check in process and is easy for guests to use.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a deadbolt lock to have a great check in experience for your guests. But some of the features of the cutting edge locks today maintain that smooth guest experience while also adding huge benefits to you as the host.

Best Airbnb Check In Options

In the new post-pandemic world you should be letting your guests check themselves in. Your guests should have everything they need to get into your listing before they arrive.

The best way I know to do this is to provide your guests with a code that grants them access to the home. You can either give them a code that opens a lock box with a physical key, or you can buy a deadbolt that has the code built into it.

We use deadbolts that accept a code from our guests, but we’ve learned that sometimes guests have trouble using the keypad, so we also put a lock box outside the house with a physical key.

Those are the best options as far as I know: a deadbolt with a code, or a lock box with a code and a physical key.

Relevant Features For Your Deadbolt

Finding the perfect deadbolt lock has been difficult, and truth be told we haven’t found the perfect one yet. Each deadbolt we’ve used has different advantages and disadvantages.

If you use a programmable deadbolt

If you want your guests to be able to enter their code into the deadbolt lock itself, then the features of your deadbolt are incredibly important.

1. Fits your door

First and foremost you need a lock that fits your door. Generally this isn’t difficult, but one of our deadbolts has a large screen and if your door handle and lock holes are too close together you may have a problem with a large screen.

Doors can also have deadbolt holes with different diameters, so just be sure to check the specs on the lock you want to purchase.

2. Easy to unlock

You should choose a lock that is easy for your guests to understand and use. One of ours has quite a few features (mixes numbers up every time, connects to app, manage guests and codes through the app, etc.), but we get a guest calling us saying they can’t get in every month or two.

Your ideal lock should be very easy to operate and unlock.

3. Easy to lock

As the host, you want your guests to lock the door behind them when they leave. If they don’t then your place is at risk to be broken into.

We have three different locks that we use. One has a button that has a lock on it and guests press that button to lock the door. Another lock has a completely different button to push and the lock must be turned. That one is sometimes left unlocked.

4. Locks automatically

Our third lock, the fancy one, locks itself. This is great because the home is never left unlocked, but like I’ve mentioned before, this lock has come with some other issues.

5. Can interact remotely

If you like to keep tabs on your Airbnb from home, and potentially add/remove codes through a phone app, then you’ll want a lock that has these features.

I’ve gotten a lot of value from tracking our units’ thermostats remotely, and while I haven’t done that with our deadbolts, I can see some serious benefits to doing so.

6. Integrates with messaging software

We use automated messaging software to make sure our guests always have the information they need (and to take care of some super repetitive tasks), and there is one lock that integrates with our messaging system.

We still use locks that don’t integrate with the system, but there are some real benefits if we decide to upgrade.

If you use a lock box and physical key

If you use the lock box system, then you won’t have the same requirements for your deadbolt. You pretty much just want security.

Vanilla deadbolts should fit just about any door, but it’s always good to verify. Other than that everything is already taken care of.

Everyone knows how to use a key to open and close a lock, so usability is a given. I’m not aware of any vanilla deadbolts that have apps, remote access, automatic locking (you might be able to find this), or integration with messaging software.

You really just need to look for a lock that’s secure and affordable.

Programmable Deadbolts

There is a wide range of programmable deadbolts that all have their own advantages and disadvantages. All of these locks we have either used in one of our Airbnbs or we plan to use them in the future.

Lockly Bluetooth Keyless Entry Smart Lock

  • Used in our Airbnb for 3 years
  • Can set and delete codes from app
  • Keypad engineered to prevent code stealing
  • Automatically locks itself

We bought this lock for a few reasons, but the biggest was that it can be set to automatically lock itself. We had been having problems with guests leaving our property unlocked when they left. We wanted peace of mind that our home was secure after our guests checked out, so we went out and spent some money on a cutting edge lock (at the time).

Overall, I’ve been very happy with the lock. It basically guarantees that our home is always secure, which is why we bought it.

Updating and deleting codes is a breeze. Just download the app and you can manage the codes from there without touching the lock. It is a bluetooth lock, not a wireless one, so you can’t update codes from home. You have to be near the lock in order to connect your phone to it.

The patented keypad makes it to where someone can literally watch you punch the code in and still not be able to know what the code is. It’s a very smart design.

The only issue we’ve had with the lock is that a small percentage of our guests have trouble using it. They seem to have a problem understanding how to put the code in. We keep a lock box with a physical key nearby to make sure these guests can get into the listing without issue. I haven’t found a lock yet that’s perfect, but this one is close.

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

  • It’s wireless and smart!
  • Integrates with messaging software
  • Shorter battery life
  • Guests must download app

I’ve been really looking at the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock in the last year because of it’s ability to integrate with our Airbnb messaging software (Host Tools).

It’s a lock that connects to your Wi-Fi which means, once you download the app, you’ll have access to your lock from anywhere. You can be alerted when the door has been left unlocked and you can unlock it yourself from anywhere. That’s all super convenient.

However, I haven’t yet made the jump to the Wi-Fi lock because I have a few concerns. First and foremost is that my guests would have to download the app themselves in order to unlock the door. That seems like it could be too much to ask from some of our guests. The other is that in order for the lock to have Wi-Fi, it needs more power. This shortens the battery life of the lock, which adds another potential curve ball if I accidentally let the battery run out.

The truth is that the August lock is the newest technology in deadbolt locks and it offers some features that you can’t really find with any other lock. If the majority of your guests are below the age of 40, you’ll probably have great success with this lock.

Kwikset 99420-003 Aura Bluetooth

  • Used in our Airbnb for 2 years
  • Never had a guest get confused
  • Automatically locks itself
  • Easy to set and delete codes with app

This Kwikset has most of the same features as the Lockly Bluetooth smart lock. The big difference is that it doesn’t have the “patented keypad.”

You still have an app to add and delete codes which is easy to use. And it’s also a bluetooth lock, which means you can’t control and monitor it from home. You must be near the lock to connect to it.

The thing I like most about this lock is that the keypad is super simple. You enter the code and the lock disengages. You press the lock button and the lock engages. It’s so simple that we’ve never had a guest call us in confusion (which has happened a few times with the Lockly).

Keypad Deadbolt Lock

  • Super simple keypad
  • Very affordable
  • Automatically locks itself
  • Not as convenient to add and delete codes

If I ever need to replace the Lockly Bluetooth smart lock, I’m planning to replace it with this lock. It’s more affordable, the keypad is virtually dummy-proof, and it still has the auto-lock feature to guarantee our home is always locked after our guests leave.

Probably the biggest drawback of this lock is that it’s just not as convenient to add and delete codes as all the locks that connect to phone apps. Certainly not a deal breaker for me because we only change our codes every month or two, but if you like all your guests to have their own unique code, then this lock could be more cumbersome.

The good news is that this lock will be great for your guests. It’s super easy to use and your guests should have absolutely no issues entering, exiting and locking this deadbolt.

Non-programmable Deadbolt

I don’t think there’s a whole lot to choosing a traditional deadbolt. If you prefer to use a lock box with a physical key for your guests, then your deadbolt should be an easy, and cheap, decision.

Kwikset 660 Single Cylinder Deadbolt

  • Used in my long term rentals for years
  • Secure
  • Relatively easy installation

We use programmable locks with keypads for our Airbnbs, but I think the lock box check in method is equally valid. There’s not a lot to picking a traditional deadbolt lock. Most of them are similarly priced, similarly secure, and similarly easy to install.

I’m recommending the Kwikset 660 single cylinder deadbolt because it’s what I use at my long term rentals. They work great, but there are lots of traditional deadbolts that are just as good.

Conclusion

When choosing a deadbolt for your Airbnb you should always prioritize the experience of your guests. With today’s technology, you can find locks that integrate with your messaging software, connect to phone apps, lock themselves, and can alert you when they have a problem.

All these features have their advantages, but sometimes a simple, low-tech setup can be just as effective as one with cutting edge technology.

Happy investing.

Michael

I'm living the path to financial success and sharing everything I learn in this blog. I believe in the power of cash flowing investments, due diligence and time. This is my journey so far.

Before 2016: Just living my life, working full time and trying to get by.

2016: Kate and I start to discuss the possibility of getting into real estate investment. We read books like Rich Dad Poor Dad and listen to the Bigger Pockets Podcast. We find a Realtor and start looking at property. We even make an offer or two, but nothing happens.

2017: Kate and I continue looking for property. We meet with banks and find lenders willing to work with us. In one month (August), we turn our basement into an Airbnb and list it AND we purchase our first long term rental property, which is a triplex. We can't find good tenants for our triplex.

2018: In April, we finally get our first tenant in the triplex, our second in June and get it fully rented in July. Our basement Airbnb makes so much money that in September we decided to buy another property to exclusively rent out on Airbnb. It makes us even more money than the first one!

2019: Kate decides we should put together a mastermind group. So we get in touch with people we know who care about money and start sharing knowledge with each other. Our triplex is profitable, but our two Airbnb properties are making way more money, so we buy another property to put up on Airbnb and VRBO.

2020: Coronavirus hits in March and all the guests booked at our Airbnb properties cancel. We freak out, but after a few weeks everything comes back and we're making money again. Discussion and research from the mastermind group makes me want to investigate online business as an investment strategy. Kate and I started Unbound Investor with plans to purchase a website in 2021.

OK you're all caught up!

I learned everything I know from books, podcasts, conversations with friends and family and of course through real world experience as a cash flow investor. And I'm always pushing to learn more.

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