Is changing the locks an unreasonable task or a necessary safety precaution?

With many tenants potentially cutting multiple sets of keys to give to partners or family, landlords regularly face the issue of whether or not they should change their locks at the end of a tenancy.

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By RENT.COM.AU

When it comes to rentals, temporary ownership to a room or space can change hands often, which makes it difficult to have absolute control over the keys to your investment property. There’s no-clear cut answer to this issue, but there are options landlords can take to ensure their tenants remain secure, and that their costs stay down. Let’s look at both sides of the argument:

Why it’s worth changing the locks

The main reason landlords choose to change the locks after a new tenant moves in is because they are worried about the integrity of their home security. Fair call. If you consider this from the perspective of the new tenant, you can understand what this is worrisome. Tenants want to know that their home is secure, and it’s understandably hard for them to be content at the idea that someone might have a copy of their key.

To be fair, tenants who vacate a premises are required to hand over their keys to the landlord or managing property agent, but this does not mean they don’t have copies of the key.

Why it’s not worth changing the locks

One of the biggest issues with changing the locks on a regular basis is the cost incurred. If the landlord carries out the task themselves, this would undoubtedly keep the cost of the replacement down, but it can be difficult to do if there is a high tenant turnover.

The cost of the replacement aside, there is very little stopping landlords from changing the locks for every new tenant. If the replacement was free, everyone would do it. So what’s the best possible solution?

So, should you change your locks?

According to the most recent tenancy laws (and these vary state-by-state), landlords must agree to provide and maintain locks or other security devices necessary to keep the premises ‘reasonably’ secure. Landlords have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to their tenants. A good landlord will pay attention to the state of their investment property. If a lock is damaged when a previous tenant moves out, then the landlord should replace it for their new tenants. If the lock is not damaged, then landlords should focus on re-keying the lock instead. This provides a much more cost effective solution with the same benefits of replacing the lock.

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