• The pitfalls of property management companies using self-serve lockboxes

    February 18, 2019 | Blog
  • Self serve lockboxes

    Self-showing services are meant to offer convenience to landlords and tenants. However, prospective tenants having the ability to view properties on their own leaves plenty of important questions unanswered due to the absence of the landlord on-site. Property management companies that seek to use these services should be well informed and understand that using them can add more problems when showing rentals than they solve.

    The appeal for property management companies is that it allows more properties to be shown, saves the property management company from having to schedule appointments, wear and tear on their vehicles and allows the property to be shown at any time, not dependant on the listing agent availability which can save the property management company significant time and money. This can be great for the Landlord because there are many more eyes and the potential for unlimited traffic through the property.

    Understanding Self-Showing


    The idea behind self-showing is simple enough. The landlord installs a lockbox at their property when they list it for rent, with a key for the main entrance door inside the lockbox. These are smart lockboxes that can read input from mobile devices and allows the prospective renter to enter the property unaccompanied.

    Prospective tenants can schedule a time for inspection through the website. When they arrive at the property, they simply scan their mobile to the lockbox and enter a code into the lockbox that they receive on the spot. This opens up the lockbox and tenants can take a tour of the property. Once they are finished, they place the key inside the box and lock it again.Users are required to submit their credit card information and a fee before they can tour the property. The card can be charged for any damages to the property during the self-guided tour.


    Issues with Self-Showing

    There are real practical problems that users can experience with the self-showing approach.

    •  Self-showing cannot be used for properties that are already occupied by a tenant as no one wants people to just barge into their home. Most property management companies start looking for new renters while existing tenants are still occupying the property as they want to minimize the duration of vacancy.
    • Most prospective renters have questions for the landlord or property management company during the tour about amenities and property condition. If the landlord or an agent from the property management company is not present, they must still get in touch with the landlord or property management company later, wasting their time.
    • Many prospective renters are not good with technology and find it difficult to operate the lockboxes. Many people do not feel comfortable touring a property on their own.
    • If there is some damage to a property that is visited by two or three renters in a single day, it can be difficult to assess the guilty party. Property management companies and landlords can’t place cameras inside their property to see everything.
    • Smart lockboxes are expensive and they have a monthly subscription fee. These expenses can add up and increase the marketing cost for landlords and property management companies. Removing and re-installing lockboxes every time leases end can be very time-consuming.
    • The self-showing tour is potentially risky for the property management company, Landlord and the renter. If the property gets damaged during the tour or if the renter forgets to replace the key into the lockbox they can be charged a fine. The landlord also faces the risk of theft on their unattended property.
    • There is also a risk of glitches in the software. If a tenant visits a property and the lockbox does not open for one reason or another, then their time is wasted.

    There is a lot of room for improvement in the self-showing method. If the risks can be addressed, it may become a good method for touring rental properties.As things stand right now, it is not always a practical solution for property management companies and landlords that want an effective showing solution.