i lost the landlord's copy of the keys
May 14, 2013 4:29 AM   Subscribe

I lost my keys, and then I lost my landlord's keys. I'm baffled, embarassed, and trapped inside my apartment.

So the other day I got home from work to find a big hole in my bag and my keys were missing. I stayed at my sweetie's house and picked up the landlord's copy of the keys the next day. The plan was that i'd have copies cut and return the originals. The ring had two keys and a tag with a number that I can't recall. One key was for my door. I don't know what the other key was for; I couldn't figure it out.

The key cutting place I went to didn't have the right blanks and I hadn't gotten around to going somewhere else.

I got home tired, cranky, and not paying attention yesterday and haven't been able to find my keys since. (I've checked the obvious-stupid places like the fridge and the lock, etc). Now I am trapped in my house and I don't know what to do next. I can't afford a locksmith. I'd thought of changing the lock, but what about the mystery key?

If at all possible, I want to avoid having to interact with them... I've been sort of troublesome for them and I don't want them to hate me any more than they do.
posted by windykites to Grab Bag (64 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Stupid-place-to-look-time: did you check outside the front door?

Short answer: if you had them when you got home, 'cause you had to have them to unlock the door, the suckers have to be around SOMEWHERE.

Of COURSE this is not from personal experience. Why do you ask?
posted by tigerjade at 4:31 AM on May 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

Sounds like you have no recourse but to prostrate yourself before the landlord and beg for mercy.
posted by deathpanels at 4:37 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dont' check the obvious places, check all the places. Divide each room into sections and then tear each section apart looking for them.
posted by empath at 4:43 AM on May 14, 2013 [9 favorites]

If you change the lock without the landlord's approval, you quite possibly will have to prostrate yourself so low as to be underground. As tigerjade says, if you're in the house, so are the keys (or perhaps the keys are still in the lock). If all else fails, call the landlord.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:44 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you let yourself in with the keys, then for Pete's sake the keys are somewhere in the place.

Check your bag, the lining of your bag, all the pockets of your bag, and the trail of where your bag went, and your coat pockets.

Go outside the door. Slowly go through your place. I mean...really slowly.

Look up, look down. Look behind things. Move things. Look under things.

Check the fridge. Move everything in the fridge.

Repeat for freezer.

Check the bathroom. Check the floor around the sink and the toilet. Check the medicine cabinet.

The keys are there. They're just playing a mean little game with you and as soon as you find them, make it your life's work to a) make copies and b) get a hook, basket, whatever that will become the Official Key Home. Get to know the New Home well.

Please let us know where they were hiding when you find them.
posted by kinetic at 5:01 AM on May 14, 2013 [13 favorites]

Was anyone with you in your apartment since yesterday who might have seen the non-descript keys and taken them home by accident?

Otherwise yeah, they are definitely in the apartment. Keep looking.
posted by telegraph at 5:14 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you let yourself in with the keys, then for Pete's sake the keys are somewhere in the place.


Search room by room. Search everything in the room, move every piece of furniture, look in every cupboard and box and bag and coat pocket. Transfer nothing between rooms at any point. A room is not done until there is no place that the key could be (and I mean "you have searched everywhere", not "you have searched everywhere except that top shelf because why would it be there?").
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:15 AM on May 14, 2013

Shake every piece of clothing and every bag in case the lining has ripped in a pocket and the keys are hiding in between layers of material.

Take everything out of every box and bag so you KNOW that it's not in there.

After you find it, make three copies! One for you, one spare to keep at home, and one to give to a trusted friend or relative who lives nearby to keep for emergencies.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:18 AM on May 14, 2013

Look through your laundry, too. And any ridiculous out-of-the-way "safe spot" you have used before.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:24 AM on May 14, 2013

Invite a friend over to help you search - fresh eyes searching can be the difference.

Do you live with anyone who could have absentmindedly pocketed the keys? I live with a certain person who has this habit, and even having spent a good deal of money to send them back home in a cab at least three times a year, every year for a dozen years, hasn't broken him of this habit. And when he loses/forgets his own keys inside the house, we have this solution:

When you find them, make five copies: 1 for you; 1 spare for your landlord to give to you when you exhaust all others; one for a trusty neighbour/sweetie; one to hide somewhere outside the house (or at work); and one to keep in the house somewhere.

Then yes - a spot for keys.
There around, you'll find them - and they'll always be in the last place you look.
posted by peagood at 5:31 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just to build on the good advice given so far on searching: yes, methodical is the way to go, one room at a time. If you tear through like a whirlwind you'll just make a bigger mess for them to hide in. Tidy up as you go; put things in their right places even if said things are not your keys.

Also: search each thing once and once only, but search it like you're a DEA agent at an entry port. Do not be lulled by "yeah, I'm 99.9% sure it's not here, I can always come back and search again". That way lies madness, and a never-ending cycle of half-arsed searching. Every single item bigger than a credit card needs to be emptied, shaken (where possible), and exhaustively cavity searched. When you would swear on your life, with a gun to your head, that the keys are not in this thing, you can start searching the next thing. Not before that. (Source: bitter experience.)
posted by pont at 5:42 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Pockets, don't forget to check everything that has pockets --- pants, coat, whatever.

Do you have a pet? Check by the dog's bag of food or the cat's litterbox or the fish's flakes & filter.
Dishwasher. Under the bed/a chair/the couch. Under the chair/couch cushions. Next to the TV remote or your book. Folded into your blankets (you set them on the bed, then they got tangled in the covers). Under the bed. On your dresser, IN your dresser, in the hamper with the dirty clothes. Did you do laundry? In the washer or dryer.
posted by easily confused at 5:43 AM on May 14, 2013

You need to do this systematically. Start in one corner of one room. It doesn't matter if it's the back corner of the kitchen and the only thing there is the dog food bowl. Go inch by inch over the entirety of every room, looking over, under, around, and in everything. And I mean EVERYTHING, every crevice, in every plant, under the stove, inside the fridge, inside the freezer, in the garbage. If the keys are in the house you will find them doing this. You can also do it quickly as long as you are thorough.
posted by cairdeas at 5:43 AM on May 14, 2013

Here are the top three places I lose things when I am tired or distracted:

1. Inside of other bags or boxes I am holding. Like when I got a bag of donuts, got change, and then later could not find the change. Yes, it was in the bag of donuts. Were you carrying any groceries home?

2. In places I am putting away other things. So again to use a grocery example, if you got home and put anything into cupboards, check there. Or if I am throwing something into the garbage, I might also toss in something I need by accident.

3. In clothes that I forgot I was wearing. Like I go back and check the pockets on the clothes I thought I was wearing, but I was actually wearing something else. So it's best to check everything that's dirty, or if you have more than one jacket etc., check both.
posted by cairdeas at 5:50 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Laundry, down the side of the bed or tangled in the sheets, between cushions on a sofa/chair, wherever my cats like to hide toys to play with. In the fridge, in the freezer, in the dishwasher.
posted by jeather at 5:54 AM on May 14, 2013

Do you have a pet? Check by the dog's bag of food or the cat's litterbox or the fish's flakes & filter.

Check under the pet, too. Last time my boyfriend lost his keys, the cat was sleeping on them. (No, I don't know why she thought that was comfortable.)
posted by lwb at 5:58 AM on May 14, 2013 [13 favorites]

Sometimes when I'm searching for small things that have dropped on the floor, I lay a flashlight on the floor and sweep around the room looking for either oddball shadows or a reflection if the thing is metallic (turning the lights off helps a bit).
posted by jquinby at 6:00 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the garbage too. Get a new bag and take out the garbage piece by piece. Two keys on a little ring are super light. Good luck, I know how frustrating this is.
posted by saucysault at 6:00 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check the fridge and freezer!
posted by Leezie at 6:08 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, The Squirrels came and took your keys inside your house. We are very familiar with these creatures.

When I have been inside my house with keys I knew had to be there because SOMEHOW I WAS INSIDE, this is where The Squirrels have hidden them:

1. On the floor behind a toilet hidden by toilet brush. Keys fell out of husband's pocket while he was using bathroom.

2. Wedged into the weird space where the vertical and the horizontal planes of a step meet each other, and somehow impossible for my brain to see there.

3. Inside the cover from a catalog I threw into a recycling pile.

4. Someone already mentioned the lining of the bag. Especially if you already have a hole in it.

5.Threaded onto the dog's leash. I totally forgot I just put it on the leash and then opened the door with the weird leash key, which no.

By the way we now have a hook inside the doorway for keys and I have gotten into the habit of putting them there every single time I come in the door even if I'm running out again in a minute. This has seriously changed my life.
I also have given a set of my keys to a friend who lives close by. I admit to calling her to come let me once when the door slammed behind me, and I recommend this.

Good luck. And if it turns out you really really can't find them, your landlord might have a secret extra set, you know -- they might not have just handed you the only existing keys to a unit.
posted by third rail at 6:08 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wait, are you actually really locked in your apartment? If so, how did you check the door?
posted by latkes at 6:09 AM on May 14, 2013

check between the sofa or chair cushions too. Take them off completely if it's possible.
posted by royalsong at 6:09 AM on May 14, 2013

latkes: "Wait, are you actually really locked in your apartment? If so, how did you check the door?"

I think the OP just means they can't leave, or they won't be able to get back in.

To the OP: Pockets. It's ALWAYS pockets for me.
posted by coupdefoudre at 6:10 AM on May 14, 2013

Before you start searching every square inch of the place, concentrate on reconstructing your path through the space from the time you got home to the time you realized the keys were missing. Where did you go, what did you touch, and what were you wearing? What surfaces would you have walked past that would be around hand-height? (e.g. book shelves, kitchen counter, table, desk) Usually when I lose track of my keys temporarily, I find them on a convenient surface where I set them down without thinking.

Do you have a cat? Where might the keys have ended up if they became a cat toy? Under the fridge? Under the toe kick of the kitchen cabinets?

Think through the most likely scenarios before you rip the place apart. Imagine that you were hiking on a path through the forest and dropped something. You'd start by looking along the path. You just have to reconstruct what was your "path" through your home.

Search along the path. THEN rip the whole place apart.

p.s. The one time I lost my keys for several days, they were in a pocket of my kitchen apron. Think through ALL the things you were wearing and check ALL the pockets.
posted by Orinda at 6:12 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

PS Not to scare you, but is it possible you left them in the front door long enough for someone to take them? Do you live in that kind of place, where this is likely? If so, you really should have the locks changed.
posted by third rail at 6:13 AM on May 14, 2013

Good advice from everyone. Don't forget to check your winter boots, even if they're in the back of the closet and you haven't worn them for months. I speak from experience.
posted by AmandaA at 6:17 AM on May 14, 2013

If you didn't need them to lock yourself in but simply can't leave because you'd have no way back in; time to penny up for a locksmith (not an emergency one, one that charges a reasonable rate - possibly the landlord's preferred one).

The second key might also be a key to your place; I have a deadbolt that has a sequence that can be performed to re-key it temporarily. IF so, then fie on the landlord for giving you both.

I'd check the dryer and under dirty clothes. That's where I 'lost' mine last time.
posted by tilde at 6:18 AM on May 14, 2013

Best answer: Have you rooted around in your upholstered furniture? My aunt just found a set of my keys that had been lodged in a crevice of my grandfather's recliner for at least the last four years.
posted by mskyle at 6:19 AM on May 14, 2013

Do you have a trusted friend that you could call? Sometimes, when finding a lost thing seems hopeless, having a second pair of eyes can help. Bring a fresh pair of eyes to the situation. And perhaps the friend could help to calm ya down. It's stressful, I know!! I lost my keys a few years ago and found them in the rotter* of my fridge. They must have fallen out of my hand when I reached in to get an apple. They were lost there for about a week.

*some people call this the Crisper
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:22 AM on May 14, 2013 [9 favorites]

Also check any drawers in the kitchen - I can imagine keys would be hard to see right away if your utensils are as disorganized as mine are. Nthing pockets, including robes and aprons. And under your keyboard(s), as this is usually where small things lost on my desk are hiding.
posted by youngergirl44 at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2013

I have always been terrible at finding lost things, I usually search by looking for things in the places I expect them to be.

My fiancee is great at finding things. She says that the trick is looking carefully in all the places - not just where you think things might be, but also the places where you are completely sure the lost item is not.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:47 AM on May 14, 2013

Look in all the obvious places a few more times, too. Says the girl who was taking apart the bathroom sink to find the lost wedding ring that was actually on her finger.
posted by artychoke at 6:52 AM on May 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I googled How to Find Lost. Here are some approaches:

I am a habitual misplacer of keys, glasses, credit card, important mail, etc., and here's my advice: Recognize that misplacing is usually worse when you are stressed. Recognize that stuff happens(hole in bag) and this does not make you an irresponsible, screwed-up person; it's just life, so stop blaming yourself. Ask for help, and search methodically. The keys are probably hiding in plain sight. I have spent time running around the house when my keys were in my pocket.

And, yes, once you locate the keys, go get copies. 1 for your office, 1 to slide into your wallet, and 1 for regular use. I have a standard location for my keys, and I have a bright ribbon on the keyring to help them stand out when I search for them.
posted by theora55 at 7:01 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

"If you let yourself in with the keys, then for Pete's sake the keys are somewhere in the place." Unless you left them in the lock.

You have no alternative to a methodical fingertip search, hopefully you can eliminate some spaces that you did not enter, then just retrace your steps as best you can. Assuming no randomising influence like kids or pets then the keys are either in clothes or a bag, or have fallen out somewhere, or were put somewhere (and possibly had something placed on top of them). Fresh eyes would be a real bonus.
posted by epo at 7:01 AM on May 14, 2013

Check where you normally put your keys very, very thoroughly. When I did this last week, I tore apart my room to eventually find them...in a side pocket of my purse rather than the main compartment I normally put them in.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:10 AM on May 14, 2013

I can count on one hand (not even using all the fingers) the number of belongings I've truly lost in my life. But I misplace shit at home all the time. ALL THE TIME. All the time. It's really bad.

Sounds like the keys are probably coming from inside the house. Here are some places I've found my keys (or phone...more often I'm misplacing my phone) around my house:

-in the lock on the outside of the door
-inside a shoe
-inside a box of dog treats
-inside the refrigerator
-slipped down inside something stacked on a shelf or table
-in between the covers on my bed
-in a pile of dog toys
-between the couch cushions (even when I hadn't sat on the couch, explain that one)
-in a pocket of a coat I hadn't even been wearing
-folded in some laundry
-in the cupboard stacked with the dishes
-in the washing machine (before it got washed)

Once you find them (and you will), make a whole bunch of sets. Put one of the sets in your special stuff place (I assume everyone has one...the place where you keep your passport and stuff) and DON'T EVER USE IT. Except in emergencies. I have four sets of house keys. I usually only know where two of them are. (And it never seems to be the same two.)

Good luck! Hope you find them quickly!
posted by phunniemee at 7:12 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to echo "search everywhere" as everyone else has said, and to add: don't search merely the places (fridge, pockets) where things are supposed to be put down. I once knocked a Sharpie off my desk and couldn't find it anywhere. Weeks later I discovered it had flown through the air and neatly attached itself, using the little clip on the cap, to the tie part of a chair cushion, where it circles around the back of the chair to keep it in place. I could totally see keys lodging themselves in some abnormal location in that fashion.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:13 AM on May 14, 2013

Does your purse have a hole in the lining? So things can slip through the hole yet still be in your purse? Man, I had so many things go missing until I figured that one out.
posted by thank you silence at 7:25 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dig through the trash. It's easy to absentmindedly throw things away. Check the laundry, too.

If you tend to have a lot of things sitting around, go to each zone (e.g. purse, night stand, coffee table) and take inventory of everything there. Actually pick everything up and identify it before putting it back. Not only does this slow you down, but it gets you to move stuff around, and you're likely to discover the keys hiding behind/under something.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:38 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you taken the garbage out since you got home?
posted by Salamander at 7:55 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you checked the bathroom windowsill? Maybe on top of the toilet tank?
posted by 99percentfake at 8:13 AM on May 14, 2013

Best answer: Perform a grid-search in each room like they do on CSI.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:21 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sounds like it's time for Spring Cleaning!

This is my go-to method for finding the hopelessly lost thing.

Clean your place extremely thoroughly. Wipe down every surface. Sweep and mop ever door. Reorganize the closet. Start in the room where the keys are most likely to be and continue throughout until item is found. Bonus: clean house.
posted by bq at 8:30 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The absolute first thing to do is cancel or postpone any appointments or anything else pressing on your search time. It's amazing how much more successful you are at finding stuff if you don't feel like you are supposed to be somewhere else, doing something else.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2013

This happened to me and I found the landlord's key hanging off the front door -- it hit a snag on the door. I'd definitely retrace all your steps or else I don't see how you can avoid telling the landlord. If you've checked the inside of your apartment thoroughly, check the outside too.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2013

Just remember: if you used the keys to get back in, there is only one way they are not in the house, and that is if you left them in the lock.

Sometimes I have found "lost" keys inside the lining of my bag, or my coat. If there is a hole in your bag and your bag is lined they could have worked their way in there.

Otherwise, keep looking systematically and there is no way you are not going to find those keys, because there is no way they are not in the apartment with you.
posted by tel3path at 9:12 AM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: Done the kitchen methodical search and no luck so far, I'll post an update when/ if I find them. Luckily I've been the only one here (except my pet snail. He doesn't have them). I have been worried that they might have been in the lock and stolen, but it was such a short timeframe that I doubt it.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by windykites at 9:18 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can you ask a friend to come over and help you look? Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is very helpful.
posted by LeeLanded at 9:24 AM on May 14, 2013

I got home tired, cranky, and not paying attention yesterday and haven't been able to find my keys since.

Would it help to tell (maybe during a break from the methodical inch-by-inch search) the step-by-step story of how you got from the key-cutters to your door? You know you had the keys when you got home, because you got inside. But did you have anything else? Did you have a grocery sack or your mail or some library books? Did you pick up dry-cleaning? Were you wearing sunglasses or a hat? Sometimes, just running through an account of my errands and wardrobe can help me reconstruct the minutes in which I got home, put things down, and putting things away.

Also, you say you checked the fridge. Did you check the top of the fridge? I often stash things up there "just for a minute" and then frantically search for them later. Even if you're tall enough to see the top of the fridge, it's still easy to lose track of things up there because it just seems unlikely.
posted by Elsa at 9:26 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also check inside tissue boxes.
posted by amarynth at 9:48 AM on May 14, 2013

My ex would consistently leave his keys in the front door. Thankfully, we lived in a relatively decent neighbourhood!
posted by photojlisa at 10:25 AM on May 14, 2013

Check behind furniture, too. I found my keys wedged behind a bookcase once, so pull any furniture away from the wall.

Where do you typically leave your cellphone to charge? That's a good place to check, too.
posted by punchtothehead at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2013

Nthing checking the garbage—I've definitely found important, expensive things accidentally thrown away before!
posted by limeonaire at 10:55 AM on May 14, 2013

Given that they're not familiar to you, are you sure that you can remember exactly what they look like? Sometimes I end up tearing my hair out because the image in my head of what I'm looking for actually turns out to be quite different to what they look like.
posted by leo_r at 11:20 AM on May 14, 2013

If you aren't so trapped inside your house that you can use the front door, go outside and check the yard/parking lot/under & around cars.
If you are trapped inside and can't use your front door-go out a window if at all possible.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2013

Response by poster: Found! I had checked under the cushions, but there's a very narrow crevice between the "walls" or the arms of the easy chair, and the bottom part that holds the springs. I could barely wedge my fingers in there (it kinda hurt!) but that's where they were! Of course, I found them literally one minute after texting a friend to cancel a coffee date tonight. That's probably what really did it.

I'm going to celebrate with a coffee that I'll buy with all the change I found and enjoy my nice clean house. Thanks mefites!
posted by windykites at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2013 [28 favorites]

posted by travelwithcats at 12:33 PM on May 14, 2013

Yay! Glad it's come to a happy end.

(For future bag purchases, may I suggest that you look for ones that have a key leash inside or can easily have one added? They're so convenient, I have a hard time buying a bag without one.)
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:39 PM on May 14, 2013

Congratulations! Now go get those copies made and a new permanent home for the keys. I would also suggest a Bedazzler and go bananas making the new key-holder sparkly, but y'know, that's me.
posted by kinetic at 12:43 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Well, I feel I've earned a Best Answer for suggesting you cancel everything! Clearly that worked!
posted by thinkpiece at 12:51 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All the answers were best, but I best answered a semi-random few that were most directly relevant to my situation.
posted by windykites at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2013

posted by theora55 at 2:42 PM on May 14, 2013

Congrats! And give serious consideration to a single dedicated key-place, like the hanging hooks or a key bowl!
posted by easily confused at 3:51 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to lose my keys a lot, but ever since I got this I haven't. It's fun to put the bird in it's house!
posted by Brody's chum at 9:36 PM on May 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

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