keep residents happy with a key tracking system


Whether you want to simplify access for a resident, a guest, or a prospect, one of your biggest concerns is key management. By keeping track of all of your property’s keys, you increase security and make it more convenient for anybody to borrow a key when they need access to a certain space.

But which key tracking system is the best one?

In this post, we explain what a key tracking system is and who might need one. Then, we outline the types of key tracking systems and explain which one will work best for your property.

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What is a key tracking system?

A key tracking system is a solution that stores physical keys and keeps track of the locations of every key on your property.

Depending on the type of property you manage, you may have dozens of keys for various entry points throughout your building. A key tracking system lets you know who has which key so that you know what your first steps are if a key goes missing. Ideally, a key track system maintains a record of the person who has each key, as well as the times that a key has been checked out and returned.

In the past, property staff had to keep track of keys manually. If a staff member noticed that a key had been out for too long, they had to go out and physically look for whoever had the key, taking valuable time away from other duties.

But inventions like key lock boxes and key lockers physically house keys and make key tracking easier. And nowadays, the best key lockers come with software that automates large parts of the key tracking process — while adding more features, too.


Watch how the ButterflyMX key locker works:


Who needs a key tracking system?

Key tracking systems can be used at:

  • Multifamily properties
  • Gated communities
  • Commercial buildings
  • Offices
  • Industrial facilities

For example, say you manage a residential property. A key tracking system for apartments is useful for multifamily properties with amenity spaces, like gyms or coworking spaces, that are locked off. In these cases, you’ll need a key tracking system to make sure that residents don’t accidentally hang on to keys and prevent other residents from using the spaces.

Likewise, a key tracking system for business is useful for companies that need to manage access for specific areas of their offices. No matter what kind of business you have, you’re certain to have areas of restricted access, like supply closets or server rooms. So, you need to be able to maintain high levels of security by knowing where the keys for all these places are at all times.


Key tracking for self-guided tours

If your building offers self-guided tours for prospective renters, a key tracking system can help facilitate access and maintain security.

Self-guided touring has never been more popular. But for self-guided touring to work, you need a way to ensure that prospective tenants always return keys. In short, you need a key control and management system.

With a key tracking solution, you can store keys for prospective tenants to retrieve. Then, they can return the key after their tour. And you’ll know exactly when the key was checked out and returned.


Learn more about self guided tours


Types of key tracking systems

When you’re picking a key tracking system, you need to keep two things in mind: how to physically store the keys and how your staff will keep track of them.

Some common types of key tracking systems are:

  1. Pen and paper
  2. Electronic tracking system
  3. Key lock box
  4. Key cabinet
  5. Key locker


1. Pen and paper

While setting up an old-school, manual key tracking system with pen and paper will be cheap, it’s not a great solution.

Property staff already juggle dozens of tasks — and that’s not including key management. Even the most attentive staff members may forget to note where a key is or fail to send a reminder to the current keyholder. Wouldn’t you rather automate your staff’s workload instead of adding to it?


using an electronic system to track keys


2. Electronic tracking system

In contrast to other, outdated systems, an electronic tracker for keys will make your staff’s jobs easier.

These days, everybody has a smartphone in their pocket — which means that an electronic key tracking system can send automatic alerts and notifications to staff, visitors, and prospects alike if a key has not been returned.

And on the management side of things, electronic key management enhances efficiency. You can manage the best key tracking systems from the cloud — in other words, these systems allow you to change access permissions and manage users from any device, even if you’re offsite.


3. Key lock box

A key lock box is a small box that typically only contains one or two keys. Because they’re so small, you can hide them anywhere on your property and direct a prospect to its location. And telling key users about a lock box’s location beforehand also frees staff from key tracking duty.

But because staff members have a reduced role in physical key management, you’re depending on visitors to find the location of the key lock box and put the key back when they’re finished. And all it takes is one forgetful visitor to disrupt the entire system for everybody.

Some property managers try to increase key lock box security by disguising their lock boxes as something else, like a rock or a brick. However, it may not be a good idea to entrust the security of your entire property to a lock box disguised as a rock.


butterflymx best alternative to key cabinet


4. Key cabinet

Key cabinets are larger storage solutions that usually hold all of your property’s keys. They’re typically placed in an area where your staff can keep watch over them, like a lobby or near a front desk, which heightens security.

However, key cabinets don’t come with individual compartments, which may make it difficult to organize keys and keep track of them.


5. Key locker

Key lockers are an efficient way to store, manage, and track keys. In a key locker system, every key has its individual, assigned compartment.

As a result, anybody who wants to use a key knows exactly where it is, and exactly where to put it back. And electronic key lockers increase safety and convenience with features like automatic alerts and sensors that can detect whether a key is in a compartment or not.


The best key tracking system

The best key tracking system is an electronic key locker you can manage from a computer. Electronic key lockers combine the positive attributes of every key storage system.

A key locker has all the simplicity of a lock box — but lockers store keys more securely. And while a cabinet gives staff and visitors a central place to store and track keys, only an electronic key locker comes with individual compartments and software that helps you ensure that you’ll never misplace a key again.


Guest opens a key locker using a QR code.


The ButterflyMX key locker

If you’re considering an electronic key locker, the ButterflyMX key locker stands at the head of the pack. With our selection of features, you’ll never lose another key — and you’ll simplify property management, not just tracking keys.

Our key locker experience begins before anybody who needs a key even steps foot on your property. You can text a one-time code to a user, who then uses that code to unlock the key locker without needing help from staff. And the ButterflyMX key locker uses sensors to determine whether a key is in its compartment.

Additionally, our array of customizable notifications gives you the power to enable alerts and reminders — letting both the key user and staff members know if a key hasn’t been returned. Using our powerful, cloud-based dashboard, you’ll be able to see the status of every key on your property with just a tap.



  • A key tracking system is a solution that allows you to store, manage, and keep track of all the keys your property needs.
  • You can choose between manual pen-and-paper or electronic key trackers, although electronic key tracker systems are much more convenient for staff and visitors.
  • On the hardware side of things, you can choose between key lock boxes, key cabinets, and key lockers.
  • The best key tracking system is an electronic key locker.


Learn more about key lockers.

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Ferdison Cayetano

I’m a proptech enthusiast from New Jersey who’s looking forward to the innovations that will revolutionize real estate.

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