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With accounting firm PWC projecting the sharing economy to be worth £70 billion by 2025 within the UK alone, more and more people are looking to sites like Airbnb to rent their homes on a short-term basis. But are you safe handing over your keys to a total stranger? If your keys are lost it could cost hundreds of pounds to get your locks replaced. Worse than this, if your keys are copied then burglars could get access to your home. Thankfully there are some simple measures you can take to make your home more secure.
Verify potential guests.
Make sure you are comfortable your guest is who they say they are. Airbnb has an optional verification process where guests are required to provide a photo of their government issued ID along with proof of their online identity. Asking for ID will hopefully ward off potential scammers that may want to copy your keys but bear in mind that Airbnb are the only ones that have access to this information. If you want to do some research yourself, check to see if they are active on social media.
Be cautious about renting your home out to people that live in your local area.
They know where you live and could easily come back if they decide to copy your key.
Meet your guests in person.
Still not satisfied? Handing over the keys in person allows you to see what the guests look like and whether they match up to their online identity. Potential thieves will know you have their description in case something happens. To give you extra peace of mind you could also ask guests to provide identification when meeting them face to face.
Install a security camera.
Meeting your guests can give you a feel for someone, but how can you tell if someone intends to burgle your house? Installing a camera gives you another layer of security by identifying people that enter your home.
Don’t make it easier for online scammers to target your home.
Think that a thief needs to obtain your keys before they can be copied? Think again. Many keys can be copied just from their photos alone. When you advertise your home, make sure you don’t post pictures of your keys online.
Make keys that can’t be copied.
For those willing to spend some extra money there are specialist locksmiths that can make keys that can only be copied with the (verified) owner’s consent.
Worried that your keys could be still be copied in case your identity is stolen? Swiss company, UrbanAlps has devised a method for 3D printing that makes their titanium based keys almost unforgeable. The keys are built from the inside out using a form of additive manufacturing that makes their teeth hidden from view. Whilst the company says that it is still possible to forge their keys, copying these them would be hard without specialist tools.
Consider an alternative security system.
Using a key card system could be an easier way to ensure your home is secure. Whilst they can still be copied, you are able to deactivate them after the guests finish their stay.
Alternatively, smart systems use locks that can only be opened using a code that has been sent to your smart phone. Great for hosts that don’t have the time to meet their guests in person and once the guests leave the code can be changed. As an added benefit, smart locks tell the owner whenever a door is locked or open. If the locks fail they can still be opened with a traditional key.
Changing your locks could save you money in the long term.
Whilst changing your security could make you out of pocket in the short term, consider the potential costs for not doing this. Most insurers do not cover lost keys so if this happens then you could be footing the bill for replacement locks. Using alternative security systems such as those outlined above can reduce these potential costs or effectively eliminate them altogether.
Is your home a listed building? Don’t forget to notify the local authority.
If you don’t, you may be breaking the law. If you’re thinking of changing your locks, don’t forget to tell your local council before doing so.
Don’t forget to check with your primary insurer.
If you are happy with your primary buildings insurance cover and you have changed your security system, be sure to check your cover is still valid. Some insurers will not pay out on certain claims if they don’t think your locks are secure enough so it pays to check your policy wording first. Pikl provides specialist insurance cover for those looking to rent out their homes on a short-term basis and some of our highest cover products cover you for theft or loss of keys up to the cost of £1,000.