Rentify Advice: Landlord Keys (and Locks)

During the Tenancy: You are perfectly within your rights to keep a set of landlord keys to the property during the tenancy, but use them sensibly. Always give the tenant at least 24 hours notice of any visits you want to make. You have a legal right to enter the property to carry out checks on its condition but if you conduct these excessively, it may be construed as an infringement of the tenant’s legal right to quiet enjoyment or could even be seen as harassment. You should make your right to enter clear in the tenancy agreement, but ensure the clause is reasonable, e.g. ‘the tenant cannot unreasonably deny the landlord access’ etc. That way, if the tenant consistently denies you entry to the property, they will be in breach of the contract and you will have a good chance of getting an injunction against them and/or receiving compensation for any damage. If you turn up for the inspection and the tenant is not in, you should be fine to enter, so long as you gave notice and can prove it!

What if the tenant changes the locks? The tenant has no general right to change the locks. It is therefore wise to put a clause into the agreement to say it cannot be done. That way, if they do change them, it will be a clear breach of contract and you will be able to charge the tenant for changing them back. Note that in extreme cases, the law may side with the tenant (for example, if the landlord is clearly guilty of aggressive harassment).

The end of the tenancy: Obviously the security of the property is a top priority so make it very clear in the tenancy agreement how and when the keys should be returned (usually on the day of check-out). You could also provide a reminder when you inform the tenant of the check out procedure. If they fail to adhere to this, you are within your rights to charge the tenant for changing the locks.

Please remember that this is just a general guide. If you are in any doubt, always seek specialist legal advice.

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4 thoughts on “Rentify Advice: Landlord Keys (and Locks)

  1. Penny

    This isn’t so much a comment as a question arising, so I hope somebody can advise me. I had to evict tenants for non-payment of rent. They fled the day before the bailiffs were due in, leaving their keys in the property. I had to have the locks changed because I had no way of knowing whether they had had copies of the keys made, or if they had given copies to other people. Am I within my rights to charge the ex-tenants for having the locks changed?
    Thank you in advance for any advice.

    Reply
    1. George Painton Post author

      Hi Penny,

      This is an interesting point. It is not something that I have considered or really come across before but my inkling is that you may have trouble claiming the costs for this. After all, no landlord can really know whether their tenant (good or bad) has made copies of the keys. And it would seem unreasonable to charge a tenant for changing the locks purely based on this uncertainty. It may be worth just checking with a property lawyer. Always seek expert legal advice before proceeding in such cases! Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  2. Simon

    I only have 2 properties, but both are on euro-profile lock cylinders. It takes just a few minutes – and in the grand scheme of things not a lot of cash – to change the locks which I now do as a matter of course at the end of each tenancy. The last set I took out, I gave to my local NLA rep as a prop to show to other landlords at meetings.
    At my local hardware shop, it’s no extra cost to get keyed-alike lock sets – and only a few days lead time. For the flat, this has cut the keys from 4 (2 communal & 2 for the flat) to 2 (one for each), and for the house, from 4 keys to just 1.

    I also give the tenant several sets of keys, so they have no need to copy them. I was surprised (and TBH horrified) when I changed the communal door locks (the old ones were worn out) and the landlord of the flat opposite only wanted one key !

    Reply

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