Tenant states he will change the locks

12 Replies

I have a tenant that has decided he will change the locks.  I notified him he isn't allowed to change the locks by the lease and if there is something that makes him feel unsafe I will gladly change the locks for him.  My questions run from is there something I am missing?  he has only been in the property 3 months and I have had more trouble from him than 2 year tenants.  Should I evict him for lease violation, yes he has done other things like attempt repairs of things he though should work better and broke them.  

Offer to change locks for him. Then charge for materials and time.

If he changes looks you need to get a copy and you can charge for the change back to his sec deposit when he moves out.

Why has he attempted to repair things? Why does he want to change the locks? This tenant sounds fairly unstable.

You may take the approach to transition him out of the apartment. Let him know things aren't working out. 

Either way, start documenting the problems you are having and charge the tenant for the damages. 

I would say if he insists on changing the locks, I would ask for a copy as soon as its done. Also make sure you keep the old lock, and when he moves out you put it back or have him put it back before he leaves.

As for locks I use the KiwiSet. When a new tenant comes in, all I have to do is just re-key the door. No need to change the whole lock.

http://www.kwikset.com/SmartSecurity/Re-Key-Technology.aspx

@Max Tanenbaum I offered and will.  I will just change the tumbler.  I do document everything.  He is a new tenant but one i have known for many years.  The father of his new wife is a friend.

@Michael R. I have a new exhaust fan over the stove, I told him at walk through that I would probably replace it since the contractor did not install it correctly.  After signing he wanted to see for himself and removed the cover breaking it,  He wants to change the locks because a former tenant visited his neighbors and remarked to him that the lock looked the same.  When he told me I asked if the tenant attempted to open the door and whether they had a key to even try.  He did not answer. 

@Michael Roy

 My lease specifically says, no repairs and no lock changes. If I start to make exceptions I lose control.  I don't want other tenants going, 'Well you let him do it'.

Originally posted by @Robert Cummings :

@Max Tanenbaum I offered and will.  I will just change the tumbler.  I do document everything.  He is a new tenant but one i have known for many years.  The father of his new wife is a friend.

@Michael R. I have a new exhaust fan over the stove, I told him at walk through that I would probably replace it since the contractor did not install it correctly.  After signing he wanted to see for himself and removed the cover breaking it,  He wants to change the locks because a former tenant visited his neighbors and remarked to him that the lock looked the same.  When he told me I asked if the tenant attempted to open the door and whether they had a key to even try.  He did not answer. 

So it sounds like these are preventable things that you should have handled already and need to handle immediately.  Without asking any more questions my recommendation would be for you to take the absolute initiative here and fix the vent and change the locks today. 

It is your job to ensure your tenant feels safe and that he or she is pleased.  If the hood wasn't installed correctly then you should have had it repaired before move in.  Treat this tenant how you would want your mother to be treated were she renting this place. 

I hope that helps.

Originally posted by @Robert Cummings :

I have a tenant that has decided he will change the locks.  I notified him he isn't allowed to change the locks by the lease and if there is something that makes him feel unsafe I will gladly change the locks for him.  My questions run from is there something I am missing?  he has only been in the property 3 months and I have had more trouble from him than 2 year tenants.  Should I evict him for lease violation, yes he has done other things like attempt repairs of things he though should work better and broke them.  

I trust you have a strong rental agreement that forbids tenants from making repairs and from modifying locks, door hardware, electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, windows, etc. I trust you explained you do not allow tenants to make modifications of any kind to the rental unit without the explicit written authorization of the landlord. 

Well.... your tenant has already attempted and/or has already done modifications on your rental unit. He is a RULE BREAKER. Rule breakers rarely reform. Too bad you chose a long term lease instead of a month-to-month rental agreement, because in Washington State (except for the Seattle area) we can use a 20 day (prior to the end of the term) "no-cause" notice to terminate a tenancy. Much easier than evicting for cause.

Sit down with your tenant and go over your expectations again and review the lease document with him again. Do regular inspections and serve him 10-day notices for lease violations as you discover them. Be swift, firm, fair and polite. Find out why he feels the need to change the locks. Explain to him why you need to maintain the ability to access the unit at any time in the event of an emergency. 

Agree to what is within reason for you to do and tell him "I'm not prepared to do that" for those items that you chose not to do. It he isn't satisfied with the unit as it is, tell him it is what it is. If the place doesn't suit him, allow him out of the lease early without penalty if need be. Save both of you some grief. Even with a long term lease in place, if all parties agree you can end a lease early. Good luck!

I would calmly explain you have changed the locks and the old tenant does not have a key however if he feels uncomfortable (and people have their quirks) either offer to change for him or have him document a locksmith changed and give you a key.   Those are the options. I had to change a lock for a tenant because the door was too hard to open... Now even with the brand new lock they don't ever use that door.  

As for repairs - was it just the fan?  My guess is he is a needy tenant.  Take Marcia's suggestion on sitting him down.  You need to get on the right path here with this guy.

Better put your foot down. If it was me I start planning to evict. I document everything and make no exceptions. You a headache you have to go.

Thanks BP'ers.  All suggestions are appreciated.  What am I going to do?  

1. Change the tumblers.  Any tenant that feels unsafe the least I can do is make such a small change.  

2. @Marcia Maynard  suggested it but it was already in my mind to sit down with him an go over the lease.  The key thing is I know him from years before he was a tenant so I know this will do little good.  Yep I allowed franken-tenant in the front door.  Oh, pierce county had something like that but it was changed /repealed.  

 @Colleen F. Nope not just the fan, (and just let me say the fan works as designed. Some people do not insert that metal flap in the fan housing because it irritates people to hear that slap of the metal flap closing when the fan is turned off.)

3. I have to be in control, at least until I have a PM in control.  So you are also correct

@Robert Carl.  Again thanks for all the posts and suggestions.  

Originally posted by @Robert Cummings :

...to sit down with him an go over the lease.  The key thing is I know him from years before he was a tenant so I know this will do little good.

This is very defeatist. If that is your mindset then it is no wonder he is walking all over you. YOU are the landlord, not just the guy that knows him from way back. You are already convinced you have lost to a tenant, which means you will. Get your head right and go talk to your tenant. This is your investment and your responsibility. I hate to say it, but "man up."

Well, sounds you didn't change the locks between tenants, or you would have told him so.  That should be SOP, so it's not unreasonable.

Get the Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Sign up today to receive the popular eBook for free!