Key issues! Advice please 🔑

Hi everyone!

I’ve recently started a sit where I’m in an apartment and the key to access the main building is proving to be quite a nightmare. I was warned upon arrival about this issue and the special technique to get it to open but somehow it doesn’t seem to work whenever I do it. I’ve even ended up cutting my finger trying to open up the main door, that’s how much of a struggle it is. I managed to get a neighbour to put some WD40 in the keyhole but surprisingly, that hasn’t made any difference whatsoever. I’ve looked after almost 50 properties now and never had such an issue like this with a key. It is really causing me a lot of stress as I need to take the dogs out four times a day and I can’t keep having this happen every time. Has anybody encountered this issue before please do share any tips on how your rectified it would be most appreciated. Thanks ever so much.

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I’ve had to deal with tricky keys in the past. Maybe find a hardware store and have them cut a new key from the one you are trying to use. Or see if the HO can ask a neighbor to loan you one of their spare keys. Sometimes it is just a badly cut copy.


Have you communicated the difficulties you’re having with the owners?

Could you also ask the owners if there Is an on site resident manager or a neighbor, who can give you access from their apartment should you find yourself locked out completely?

I feel your pain, it’s the one issue I’m not eager to deal with either.

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Thanks for your suggestions. The neighbours never seem to be in. I should’ve said I’ve already tried that line of enquiry.

I had already thought of a hardware store but as I’m in one of the world’s most expensive countries where I don’t speak the language, doing this is a last resort. I was hoping someone might have a home remedy of some description that might have proved successful in the past. Usually, WD40 is an absolute miracle worker for things like this but not this time. I keep being told to just use the special technique by the property owners but that just doesn’t cut it. Absolute nightmare.

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Of course I’ve contacted the owners but it’s just a case of “well it’s a tricky key and you just have to use the right technique”but that doesn’t work for me at all. In fact every technique I’ve tried doesn’t seem to work. I’m nervous to go out again just in case I can’t get back into the building as the only other neighbours in the building either never answer or are always out. Horrible start to a house sit. Thanks anyway though, Angela.

@Chatsetchiens It’s not good to use WD40 on locks as it attracts dirt. Assuming you don’t have access to the correct lubricants, use olive oil for now. Clean the key well and then put the oil on the key and put it in and out a few times and turn it, with the door open, just to be sure. There are other home remedies which you can find if you Google cleaning locks. I find that temperamental keys usually work better if you just pull them back slightly.


WD40 once worked beautifully for me when I had this issue in the past. Sorted everything out immediately thanks to a wonderful neighbour of the home owner’s coming to my assistance.

I actually thought olive oil might do the trick but not even that’s working. Never known anything quite like it in all the years I’ve been doing this.

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Get graphite. It’s great for loosening stiff locks.
Just read your original post. Do the neighbor’s keys work easily in this lock?
Did the HO leave you a spare key that perhaps works better? If not ask the HO to figure out how to get you a key that works. Maybe the apt manager/super is the one to see. Maybe a neighbor can lend you a spare for now? I feel your pain!


If the key they left you is dodgy but everyone else’s works fine, then it is definitely just a badly cut key and no amount of WD40 will sort it out.

The only options you have are to get another key cut or to see if a neighbour has a spare one they can lend to you whilst you are there.

Don’t get another cut using the one you have as a template though!


Appreciate your suggestion, Colin. There’s only one other neighbour and they never seem to be in. Still waiting to hear back from the owners as I need to take their dogs out soon but nervous in case I get locked out as there’s literally nobody to let me back in. Whoever has cut this key has done a very poor replica, that’s for sure!

Are you able to write a message to the neighbours and put in under their door @Chatsetchiens explaining your dilemma?

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Just managed to see the neighbours at long last. They told me the key is just difficult in general and that’s just how it is. Looks like I’m going to have a bit of an ordeal every time I go out and attempt to come back in again.

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@Chatsetchiens - I used to cut keys at work, The problem usually is that a replica is best when cut from an original. When many keys are needed often they start using replicas as the donor key and then next the replica of a replica…it goes on until it is very difficult to get a decent copy.

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That makes perfect sense, Colin. I suspect the replica hasn’t been down from the original.

I’d really hoped the HO’s neighbours would be a bit more supportive. They just basically said “Get over it and get on and deal with it. However long it takes you to get in. So be it!” Charming!!!

I’m just going to have to manage as best as I can. Far from ideal but I’m running out of options and solutions at this point!

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The problem may not be the lock. Can you turn the key easily when the door is open?

The trick may be that you need to lift or pull or push the door a bit in order to be able for the key to turn and move the lock.


I know it’s inconvenient, but sometimes there is a trick. Clearly the other tenants and the pet owners have figured it out. It’s asking a lot but maybe the one neighbor who has helped you can stand inside while you practfice? I’m guessing this is a case where the lock needs to be fixed or adjusted, and everyone who lives in the building has adjusted themselves to accomodate it.


I feel for you but do wish that owners, when they know there’s a problem with a lock/key/whatever would sort it out before sitters arrive. I’ve occasionally had difficult doors but not the problem you’ve got. I can empathise with you


I agree with @pietkuip. @Chatsetchiens: How much have you tried understanding the lock when you don’t have the dogs in tow? For example, open the door, and play with the lock in the open door.

There are a lot of ways you can tweak how you open it, too. If the key is a little loose in the lock, you can pivot up, down, to either side, etc. Perhaps the key has to not be in all the way, or the opposite.

Is it hard to lock and unlock, or just one? It might be the alignment of the bolt with the frame.

Play with it. Take pics/vids and post them here. Good luck!


Thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote fully and for such a kind response. It’s very much appreciated. Likewise - I really feel this ought to have been rectified
prior to a sitter’s arrival as this has caused me a lot of unnecessary stress.

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Geoff - believe me when I say I’ve tried every possible permutation and variation and yes, without pets in tow. It has in fact consumed an excessive and ridiculous amount of my time on what is my very first day of this sit. Time which I’d much rather be spending with the animals helping them get settled and adjusted away from their family which is hard enough for them.

No sitter should be having to devote so much time to something like this and the fact of the matter is this really ought to have been addressed and dealt with beforehand.

I am somewhat exasperated as you can probably tell by my tone as there doesn’t seem to be a specific set way to get the door to open. It’s pot luck each time and that time taken can be VERY long.

Going to leave this here now as I’ll have to figure this out but I appreciate the input from everyone who’s contributed. If any HOs happen to see this and happen to have tricky doors, please PLEASE can you help sitters by resolving this issue beforehand as this is a highly stressful situation which ultimately could have been avoided.