There are many responsibilities that come with owning rental property, one of them being the safety of your tenants. You want to be sure that your tenants are living in a unit or home that is secure.
When it comes to your responsibility about locks and keys, the state you live in sets the laws. At a bare minimum, most states require a landlord to supply their tenants with adequate locks on doors that lead to the outside and on windows. Some go further and say that doors must have a deadbolt lock.
You are required to provide keys for each person on the lease or rental agreement. You will also want to keep a key for yourself. Laws might state that you are obligated to keep your copy of the key safe.
You probably aren't required to change the locks or rekey existing locks when a new tenant moves in. Many tenants will request that this be done. This comes down to a personal, and moral, decision. It's good practice to at least get the locks rekeyed. Your previous tenant should have returned the keys you provided, but they also may have had duplicates made and distributed during their tenancy.
Some states require that landlords replace existing locks in the case of domestic violence. If a tenant has legal documentation showing that they have been the victim of domestic abuse, the landlord may have to change the locks. Depending on state laws, the expenses to change the locks can be passed on to the tenant.
It's important that as a landlord you are aware of the laws about locks in the state in which your rental property is located.
The Difference Between New Locks and Rekeying
A new lock means completely replacing the existing hardware. If your rental property has adequate locks, you probably won't need to replace them. Locks should be replaced when:
- They have been damaged by a break-in or attempted break-in
- They are old and out-dated
- They don't function properly
- They are no longer considered to be safe or effective
Rekeying involves a locksmith altering the existing locks and making new keys for them. The old keys will no longer work. Rekeying is generally what you will do when you have a change in occupancy. It is less expensive to rekey than replace locks, and it is an effective way of protecting your new tenants by providing them with new keys.
Make Provisions Involving Locks and Keys Clear to Tenants
Include a clause in your lease or rental agreement that pertains to the locks and keys for the property. If you don't want your tenants to make additional keys, be sure to state that in the lease. You may want to say they can only make additional keys after obtaining your written permission. Some people want a neighbor or family member to have a key in an emergency. It's difficult to deny them that, but as the property owner you have every right to know who has keys.
A tenant should never change a lock without your permission. Should an emergency arise such as a break-in, and you aren't able to be reached, the tenant may have to replace broken locks. In this situation, they must notify you of any changes and provide you with new keys. This is another clause that should be explicitly stated in the lease or rental agreement.
This information is meant to help you keep your tenants and your property sufficiently protected.
To contact a professional locksmith, contact a company such as Timberline Locksmith Service.