Do Landlords Have to Change the Locks Between Tenants?

You’ve taken the tour, you love the apartment or condo, and you’ve signed a lease. Once you are ready to move in, the landlords hand you your keys — but did they change the locks since the last tenant left? Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell without directly asking your new landlords.

Residential building rules may vary complex to complex, but in general landlords are not legally required to change locks between tenants. All the landlords have to do is provide a level of security that would satisfy insurance companies, and of course that line can be a bit fuzzy. This can be disappointing for a number of reasons, and as such it’s important for residents and landlords alike to know why it’s important, and safer for everyone, to change locks between tenants

Duplicate Keys May Have Been Made

When the old tenant was in the building, it’s very possible that they cut new keys to share spares with neighbors, families, or friends in case of emergency. It’s impossible for you, the incoming tenant, to fully know the number of spares that are out there, and that can be alarming. Tenants are well within their right to ask landlords if any spares were made — sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and you should feel free to note your safety and ask for new locks.

Entry Systems Vary

It’s possible that your building has two keys: an individual key for your unit and a shared key for the front door. Hard keys are a traditional security structure, but they do require additional care. Fobs and other electronic forms of security are easier to maintain and change, and shared entry keys highlight the importance of changing locks between tenants. Not only might someone have a spare key for your unit, but they might also have a key to get into the building, which can lead to intrusion and mail theft. 

Can Tenants Change Their Own Locks?

First things first: tenants should feel comfortable asking landlords about the possibility of having locks changed. If you get a negative response, or if building management is dragging its feet, you might be able to change the locks on your own. Rules vary building to building; sometimes tenants will do this on their own (take action now and ask forgiveness later if it poses a problem, but your safety comes first). Sometimes the building will reimburse you for the work. Discuss with your landlords, and be sure to provide management with a copy of your new keys so that they can access your individual unit as needed. 

Be Safe and Do Your Homework

Tenants should look over their lease, have clear communication with their landlords, and know their rights so that safety is prioritized and the correct, legally appropriate actions can be taken to maintain this security. 

Pop-A-Lock offers rekeying services to landlords as leases come to an end. Prioritize tenant safety and look into rekeying efforts so that your building residents are happy and the property remains as safe as possible.  Get in touch today to learn more.

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