Apartment Living: Locked Out of Home! What to do?
You don’t think it will happen to you, but it probably will. You’re running out to take care of something else and before you know it, the door closes with your keys inside, and you’ve joined the “locked out of home” club. When you get locked out of an apartment, your first instinct will be to panic. However, that need not be the case. Remember these simple rules and you should be fine.
Always Carry Your Cell Phone
In the old days, if you were locked out of your rental apartment and didn’t have a quarter for a public phone, you were out of luck. Fortunately, today everyone can have a cell phone at a reasonable price, and it’s a good idea for safety and security in situations like these. Program the following numbers into your phone:
- Your superintendent/building manager
- Local police station
- The nearest locksmith
In addition, try to make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave the house, or have a charger in your car. Better yet, put a spare copy of your apartment key inside your cell phone cover. The key will lay flat between the phone and the cover.
Make Some Calls
Your first step should be to call your building manager when you get locked out. He or she should have keys for the entire apartment complex and should be able to get you in. If he is not available and you can’t wait for him, move on to the locksmith. If you can show some ID, the locksmith may be able to open the door for you for a small fee. Worst case scenario, if you desperately need to get into your apartment to avoid a dangerous situation—such as an infant left inside or a pot left boiling on the stove—and you cannot get immediate assistance otherwise, call the local police.
Get in the Habit of Locking the Door When You Leave
Rather than setting your front door to lock automatically, get into the habit of locking the door manually when you leave the apartment, and consider only using the bolt lock, which requires a key. In addition to the fact that this means you will always remember your keys, it also means if you forget them, you should be able to open the door right back up and get them.
Of course, a duplicate key can be extremely helpful in avoiding a locked out of apartment situation, but many landlords simply will not allow you to duplicate the keys to their units. If they do, however, you will have to figure out what to do with that duplicate key. There are a few things you should not do:
- Don’t keep the key under a welcome mat or somewhere else near your door or in an easy to access public place. Any burglar will look in these places just in case.
- Don’t give the key to a next door neighbor, which can be risky depending on the neighbor. You don’t know who has access to your neighbor’s apartment, or if they will remember to return the key when they move.
Some of the best places to keep a duplicate key are at the home of a trusted friend or family member or in another non-public location which only you have access to such as your post box or car.