Whilst as landlords, we are under no legal obligation to change the locks on a rental property during the period between one tenant leaving and a new tenant arriving, there are a few important reasons why you might wish to.
A tenant who has just vacated a property may have cut multiple sets of keys over the course of their tenancy, and distributed them to their friends and family. There is no way to be certain that all sets of keys have been returned, potentially undermining the security of the new tenants, and presenting a risk of complications should an insurance claim arise.
The landlord is responsible for making sure the property is not only habitable, but secure for tenants to live in, and insurance companies will want to know that a rental property has a good level of security. You therefore run the risk of invalidating your insurance were an incident to occur and reveal an inadequate level of security in the property.
When should you think about changing the locks?
All locks are subject to wear and tear, so even if you don’t feel the need to change the locks at the end of a tenancy, you may need to change them from time to time anyway due to wear and tear. You won’t necessarily need to upgrade all the locks, but check that locks are not worn, are properly fitted and fit for purpose. It is always easier to do this at the start of a tenancy before handing over the keys to a new tenant.
What are the rules surrounding locks?
Once a tenant has moved in, they can change the locks if they choose to and are not legally obliged to give the landlord a key, unless this is stipulated in the tenancy agreement. As always, positive communication is key to a happy tenancy with fewer issues – and that includes a tenant deciding to change the locks.
That being said, a tenant cannot deny the landlord access to the property if urgent repairs need to be carried out, or an incident occurs where the landlord will need to get into the property. If a landlord wants to gain access to carry out routine checks, 24 hours’ notice is required.
What if a tenant loses their keys?
If a tenant loses their keys, (and they are permanently lost or fall into someone else’s hands) then the cost of changing the locks and cutting a new set of keys will tend to fall onto the tenant.
Ultimately, it is always a landlord’s responsibility to make sure their property is secure, and all locks are working as they should. Whenever thinking about locks, and door securing mechanisms, always take safety into account too, such as escape routes in the event of a fire. As ever, if you are unsure or concerned about your obligations, give us a call on 01268 955001.