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Tenants and keys...


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Hi, i've just agree a rental on my London flat. The tenants have told me they'd like to change the lock on the front door. I sympathise with them and they will foot the bill. My question is that i have always had a spare key to all the properties i've rented out over the years, is it normal for me to ask for a spare? Is there any legal position on this?......and while i'm on the subject, how many keys is the landlord obliged to supply to a single tenant, do i have to supply a spare?



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I'm continually surprised that more tenants do not ask for the locks to be changed at the start of a tenancy as there is a huge amount of trust that all copies of keys are handed in at the end of a tenancy.  I'm not aware of a case of a criminal prosecution of a previous occupant returning to break into a property and remove a new tenant's belongings but I'd be surprised if there had not been several cases.  I do not suggest it to landlords as it is an additional expense they do not need in these testing times but if the media pick up on this it could be the next demand from Shelter or the tenant friendly government departments!


If your tenants are willing to pay for it - no problem but you MUST have a copy for contractor access and management inspections + if the tenant loses their copies or locks themselves out they will be able to copy your master key.  i would ask for the removed lock to be returned to you together with the tenants copies of the keys to that lock and you can then easily switch back for added security another time.


With regards to how many copies to give - I would give out 2 sets of main access door keys and one for the rest of the doors - but always have a spare set to yourself.  If you are using a managing agent give them a spare set too but do not trust them the retain the only set.  Even good agents mislay keys as do contractors as they are only human and have often dozens if not hundreds of sets to manage.  My office has around 700 different property sets with up to 3 sets per property and is therefore a logistical nightmare to keep on top of so keeping your own master set is a must

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...very useful post Tim and i agree. If i was a tenant moving into a flat in London i'd seriously consider changing the locks too. As it happens, i checked the new Tenancy Agreement and it already has a clause stating the tenant must get permission from the the landlord to change the locks and agree to a spare set of keys going to the Landlord.




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Why must you have a copy? As I understand it you cannot enter a property lawfully without tennants consent, even if they are in arrears with rental etc.


I agree its better to hold a spare set and we always do; 


Although i am speaking in terms of UPVC doors only here, but 99% of doors which I have came across have the same type of lock, so at the end of a tennancy we switch the locks for one of a number of spares we have in case outgoing tennant retains a key, these type of locks are not expensive anyway and I'd go as far as to say anyone who knows the correct end of a screwdriver to hold is capable of replacing one!

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Hi David, as a landlord, you may need to enter the property to attend to an emergency, with or without the tenants permission, if reasonable attempts to contact them fail. For example, if there is a strong smell of gas from the property, or the occupants of a flat below report a leak from your property above and your tenants happen to be away on holiday, you would need to enter the property urgently, and in their absence.

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