Key Tips for Your First Apartment

Author: Lauren Ross


It’s move-in day – how exciting! The moving van is packed and on its way to the community, with you trailing behind it to make sure everything goes smoothly during transportation. Before you begin unloading heavy boxes and furniture, you’ll need to swing by the leasing office to pick up the keys to the apartment.

Apartment keys are a big deal to new renters. Having the keys handed over may bring a whirlwind of emotions. It could mean something totally different to you, but to me it signifies independence and a fresh start. Whatever your feelings are, it’s important to hold onto the keys and not lose them.

Below are some apartment key tips for first-time renters, so you can ensure an overall pleasant experience in your first apartment.

Before the move-in:

When you’re face to face with the property manager or landlord, be sure to ask these questions pertaining to safety and apartment key concerns:

  • Was my apartment rekeyed after the last tenant moved out?
  • Who inside the office has access to spare keys? And what safety procedure is in place to protect them?
  • What do I need to do if I lose my key or set of keys?
  • How much is a replacement key?
  • I have two kids who get home before I do – am I allowed a copy for each of them?

Depending on which state you reside in, landlords and property managers may be required to change the locks on an apartment after the prior tenant leaves. If it is not mandated, you may want to put in a request as a security measure. Be sure to pen the request so you have something to fall back on. Check your tenant rights on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

When you’re settled in:

During the term of your lease, try not to lose your apartment keys! Office hours are only so long, and if you get locked out, you may be stuck outside for a while until someone comes to let you back in. Here are some suggestions renters can do (and shouldn’t do) when locked out of the apartment – just make sure it doesn’t go against your lease agreement.

Share a spare: If you have a spare apartment key, it may be wise to have someone hold onto it in case of an emergency – just be mindful of whom you share it with. Give it to a trustworthy person, like a friend or family member, who lives nearby. It may seem convenient to ask a neighbor, but you just moved in and don’t know them on a personal level yet – so don’t ask them to be your key holder.

Don’t hide a spare: Avoid hiding a key outside, especially under a welcome mat. A mat is the first place a crook will look, making you and your home vulnerable to theft. Don’t hide your spare apartment key in a car either because it could accidentally fall out or be stolen.

Make additional copies: Large families with older kids may need additional copies of the key to the apartment. Before you do this, check your lease to see if it is allowed. Keys that state “Do Not Duplicate” should be left alone.

When you move out:

There’s a lot to manage when you are moving out of your apartment home. One of those things to remember has to do with the apartment keys. Let’s check it out!

Turn over keys to office: front door, additional copies, mailbox key, pool/gym key, gate access card, etc.

Turn keys in on time: A renter may be charged if keys are returned late, or not returned at all. Ask your landlord or property manager what time you need to turn over the keys to the rental. If you don’t give the keys back on time, the cost to replace the keys and locks could be deducted from the security deposit per the agreement.

If you think it’s time to start looking for that first apartment, or you need a new one, be sure to start your search on Apartment Finder! We have thousands of real-time listings to fit your budget, just use our handy Pricing Tools.