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key management
cold winters night
alarm bells
bedroom apartment
Key Management And How It Can Go Very Wrong
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Key Management And How it Can Go Very Wrong

When running a property management business “keys” are a critical possession. You are trusted with them by the property owner, who you give them to, why and for how long is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

Most managing agents have a wall, board, cupboard or room with rows and rows of numbered keys with multiple copies of each. It does not matter what technology they use to run their business eventually keys are manually issued to whoever needs to access a property. Usually this is an uneventful process but every now and then it goes wrong and sometimes with unexpected results.

I spent a lot of time with a very large London based property management and rentals business. They always provided me with accommodation whilst I worked on site so it was not unusual for me to call into their operations centre and ask for a key for anything that was available. As the main developer of their property management system I would usually have had a look at what was available and made suggestions based on the area of London I fancied staying in.

This day was a little different as I had been out for dinner and drinks with a couple of the Directors and to be honest we had all consumed too much alcohol. At close to midnight I walked into the operations center and asked for my key. There was confusion for a few minutes. It appeared that someone had forgotten to make the appropriate arrangements. However, a key was soon provided and off into the cold winters’ night I wandered.

After two walks and a ride on the Underground I arrived at the property (a 10 storey apartment building) about 45 minutes later. As I reached the 7th floor I was thinking about falling into bed and warming up. I found the two bedroom apartment and put the key in the door.

The first sign that all was not as it should be were the children’s toys on a table just inside the door. My brain was “a little foggy” so whilst “the alarm bells in my head were ringing” the rest of my brain was still catching up. I dropped my bag on the floor and thought “that’s strange” somebody else has left their things behind. I was looking at an open suitcase. As I stood up, put my keys on the table and looked across the room all became clear. My brain immediately woke up and started to panic. Sleeping on the sofa bed were a small child and presumably its mother. To make matters worse the woman sat up and looked straight at me but thankfully said nothing.

I was now in a “ground open up and swallow me whole” moment. All I could do was say “Sorry”, grab my keys and bag and leave quietly. I reached the elevator expecting to be pursued but there was silence. I suddenly had sobered up and as I descended and left the building I thought how long before the Police are looking for me. I called the operations centre to let them know what had happened and found myself a hotel for the night.

The next day I expected we would all be busy dealing with the consequences. But nothing happened. I can only presume the woman thought the whole thing was a dream and went back to sleep. I wonder to this day what the woman thought. So now when I put the key in the door of a clients' property, I am always cautious because you never know what or who might be waiting on the other side.


Street Talk

I have another one like this coming soon

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Hi Rob, Thank you for another great article.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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