Should Landlords Change The Locks For Every New Tenant? Here’s the Answer…
The great thing about apartments and rentals is that in most cases, it is a temporary arrangement. It is seen as a more cost-effective means to build a home without having to buy a house. In this day and age, there are many families gravitating towards rentals because it is a more affordable option. A lot of money goes into buying a house, so it is completely understandable that more people are leaning towards rentals.
For landlords, this can be an awesome thing. It presents you with the opportunity to meet new people and new families, time and time again. The responsibilities that go into becoming a landlord are extensive, to say the least. Aside from collecting rent, landlords are tasked with property maintenance and general upkeep. Among these responsibilities is the issue of whether or not landlords should change their locks every time they get a new tenant.
Some people will be quick to say “yes” and some will be quick to say that doing so will incur a higher price. When it comes to rentals, temporary ownership to a particular room or space changes hands quite often. This process makes it hard to have absolute key control. There is no clear-cut answer to the question posed, but there are options that landlords can take to ensure their tenants remain secure, and that their costs stay down. In order to understand why this is even a question that people ask, we have to look at all sides of the argument.
Why Should The Locks Be Changed?
What’s the main reason why people advocate landlords to change the locks after someone new moves in? They are worried about the integrity of their home security. If you look at it from the perspective of a new tenant you can see why this is worrisome. Many of them want to make sure that their homes are as secure as possible, and it is hard for them to be content with this idea if they think that someone out there might have a copy of their key. In all fairness, tenants that are vacating the premises are required to hand over their keys to the landlord, but this does not mean that they do not have copies of the key.
According to the latest FBI Crime Statistics, 73.2% of all burglary offenses committed were on residential properties, so it is easy to understand why some tenants might be wary of their locks not being changed. In addition to someone probably having a copy of your key, there is also the possibility that the lock might have been damaged in some way or form by the previous tenant, making it less secure than it once was.
Why Shouldn’t The Locks Be Changed?
In most cases, landlords are against constantly changing the locks to apartments and rentals because of the cost that is incurred when they do this. If the landlord carried out the task themselves it would undoubtedly keep the cost of the replacement down, but this will be hard to do if they have a lot of new tenants. However, aside from the cost of the new locks, there is very little stopping landlords from changing the locks for every new tenant. If it were free, they would definitely do it. With this information available, let’s take a look at what the best possible solution is and what landlords should do.
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So, Should Landlords Really Change the Locks For New Tenants?
According to most Landlord-Tenant laws (these vary state by state), the landlord is required to provide functioning deadbolt locks on exterior doors. So unless the lock is damaged or compromised, they are not necessarily obligated to replace the lock. If the lock is damaged by the time the new tenant is moving into their rental or apartment, then the landlord is obligated by law to replace the lock on their door. Even if the landlord was not obligated to do so, there is a chance that they would take care of it, because no tenant would be willing to live in an apartment without a working door lock.
However, things do get a little tricky when the lock is not damaged. If the tenant were a homeowner they would have every right to change their locks and maximize their home security. In this case, they do not own the property and they cannot make any changes without running them by the landlord first. In this instance, landlords do not have to replace the entire lock, but they can instead rekey the locks when new tenants move in.
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This is a much more cost-effective option than replacing the locks. Rekeying a lock will lessen the fears new renters have of their homes being compromised and it can be done at the fraction of the cost. Rekeying negates the chance of anyone breaking into someone’s apartment with the copy of an old key. In terms of risk management, rekeying is a quick, cost-effective measure. Where a lock change will replace the entirety of the lock hardware, rekeying only replaces a few small internal mechanisms. For most locks, these mechanisms are known as pins. The pins are various lengths, which all correspond to the depths on your key. Replace the pins with different sizes, or in a different order, and the old key will no longer open the lock.
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Landlords have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to their tenants. The mark of a good landlord can be seen in those who pay close attention to the state of their rental units. If a lock is damaged when an old tenant is moving out, then a landlord should replace it for their new tenants. In most cases, this is not a costly venture because it is rare that all the locks in an apartment complex will be damaged just as new tenants are moving in. If the lock is not damaged, the landlord should focus on rekeying the lock instead, as this provides a much more cost-effective solution with the same benefits of replacing the lock.
Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.