Every day hundreds of people lose their keys or lock themselves out in Germany. If this happened to you do not worry, in this guide, we will try to explain everything you should do now.
What should I do now?
If you already searched everywhere and you cannot find it here is what you should do.
- Take a deep breath and relax. It has already happened so no point in panicking.
- Check with your House Master(Hausmeister) or Landlord they might have a backup key to your apartment.
- Call the locksmith(Schlüsseldienst) a quick google search would give you many contacts nearby. You might also find the phone numbers on the notice board in your apartment building.
- Before accepting a locksmith get a fixed price from him/her. Most locksmiths try to cash on your situation and would give you a very big bill once they arrive at your place. If required call multiple locksmiths. DO NOT RUSH. Ask specifically if there are any other extra costs. If they do not provide you with a quote, move on and call the next locksmith. Even after agreeing to the price, the locksmith might confuse and rush you into accepting something once he arrives. Take your time to think and only then answer.
- If you double-locked the apartment most likely the locksmith will break the cylinder of the lock by drilling. You will have to replace the cylinder and you would get a new set of keys. The locksmith might try to convince you to buy the new cylinder from them but do not agree if they quote anything above 50 euros. You can find a replacement cylinder at your local hardware store sometimes for as low as 15 euros and replacing it yourself is not that difficult. Do not throw the broken cylinder as finding the replacement would be easier.
- If you simply locked yourself out or did not double lock the apartment, it should be relatively easy to open the door. Most likely the locksmith can open the door without breaking the lock.
- Once the locksmith opens the door, you should prove you live there, by showing some form of identification like a passport. Keep the receipt safe from the locksmith as it is important if your Household Insurance(Hausratversicherung) covers the costs.
- If you lost your keys or your keys have been stolen, you should immediately report it to the police.
- It might be also worth checking regularly with your local Lost Property Office(Fundbüro).
How to replace a key?
Your landlord would provide you with a card(Schlüsselkarte) that you can take to the locksmith for replacing the keys. The locksmiths might charge anywhere between 5-20 euros to replace the key. Your Household Insurance(Hausratversicherung) might cover the costs of replacement.
These are tricky to replace as you would need permission from your Building Management(Hausverwaltung), they will provide you with a card(Schlüsselkarte) that you can take to the locksmith. Your building management might also insist on replacing the locks for the entire building if they see a danger in you losing the key.
You might find some locksmiths that might replace the keys without the Schlüsselkarte, but someday you will have to return the keys and they might notice that the keys look different.
Your liability insurance might cover the costs of replacing the keys or replacing the locks of entire building. If you do not have an insurance yet, make sure to pick an insurance that has this coverage as the costs of replacing the locks can go anywhere up to 20,000 euros.
This can be replaced only at the dealership, you should bring your car’s registration papers. The cost of replacing a car key can be expensive as they might have to reprogram or might have to change the locks completely. Usually, the cost of car keys replacement is not covered by the Car Insurance(Kfz-Versicherung) or Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) if it is not stolen, but nevertheless, it might be worth checking.
Do not replace the keys by yourself. Reach out to your company, they should definitely have a system in place for cases like these. Depending on your insurance it may or may not cover the costs of the replacement.
Tips for the future
- Give a backup key to one of your trusted friends for emergencies like these.
- Pick a Household Insurance(Hausratversicherung) that covers the cost of replacing lost keys or locks.
- Pick liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) that covers the cost of replacing the apartment building locks. If you do not already have liability insurance make sure to get one ASAP.
- Do not have any identifying details on the key like your name or phone number. Insurance might not cover the cost of replacing the locks for cases like these and also your Building Management(Hausverwaltung) might insist on changing the complete apartment locks.
- Double lock your door when leaving as some insurances do not cover the costs of the theft if in case the door is not double locked.
- There are also services like these that provide you with a special keychain with a code. The finder can simply throw the keys in any postbox and the company will send you back the keys.
- If you are a tech enthusiast like me, you can also install a smart lock like this that can be retrofitted on most locks. You can open the door with your mobile if in case you are locked out or lost your keys.