Landlord question - rekey for new tenants?

26 Replies

Hello everyone,

Somewhat new to the landlord business and am looking forward to getting some feedback from more experienced professionals.  Recently a new applicant for one of our units asked if the landlord would rekey the front door and mailbox.  Is this customary, and should the landlord be expected to pay for the rekey service?  Thank you for your time!!



If they specifically requested it, do it and pay for it to make them feel warm and fuzzy.  In 14 years, I've never had anyone ask. 

Not a professional as a Landlord, but for the couple bucks I would do it.  As @Account Closed stated.., it would make them feel "warm and fuzzy."  Just make sure to tell them to pay it forward ;o)

@Jason Cunningham

I definitely recommend rekeying the unit. Make sure to get it rekeyed (not new locks) to save

yourself some money. The last thing you want is liability from that tenant: "Someone got into my place and stole a computer. Since you didn't rekey the place, someone else had a key / access to my property."

ALWAYS rekey for new tenants. You avoid a lot of liability and in some states it may be mandatory. I have some SFR that take five double sets of locks and it costs me over $100 each time but what is the alternative? Have a previous bad actor tenant commit a sexual assault and be sued for ten million? REKEY each and EVERY time. Cheap insurance!

Originally posted by @Dana Dunford :

@Jason Cunningham

I definitely recommend rekeying the unit. Make sure to get it rekeyed (not new locks) to save yourself some money.

 One would so think; however by the time you pay for the service call and the per-door rekey fees, it's FAR cheaper to just replace the lock AND you can do that for yourself.

When I started as a LL, the insurance company asked "What's your policy on keys?"  I said that all keys were stamped DO NOT DUP and there was a $100 fee if the keys were not returned.  If and when there's a problem, I will revisit the question".

In 19yrs, I've never been asked and most importantly, there's never been a problem.

@Jeff B. -- Agree that is a good approach (DO NOT DUP and track keys) if you already have that process in place. But if you do not, then rekeying is a good approach for this initial one. And, sometimes your time is more valuable than the cost of getting someone out to the property -- but of course, that's on a case-by-case basis.

These are all great replies, folks!  Thank you!

The day of our final walk through before a tenant moves in we ALWAYS rekey the locks. We use the quickset smart key which allows us to rekey a lock in about 10 seconds and costs nothing. I find it's just an additional selling point to tell people what we do and that they, and only us have an updated key and no contractors have access. It's just an extra security measure that makes people feel good and secure.

John T is absolutely correct.  Absolutely rekey every time and if you don't know the property code in your state, you should learn the requirements for locks first.

In Texas they must be changed, the tenant must be able to exclude the landlord when home, and this applies to every exterior door.  Failure gives them the right to leave without prejudice or notice if this is not done within7 days of a move-in unless you can prove it was done at turnover.

buy an entry door set and when ever someone moves out replace with your extra. In other words when unit "O" moves out switch out that lock set with your new one then when the next tenant moves out, say in unit b you put unit "O" Lock set on unit b and so forth. Same for mail box keys. That way you are not constantly spending money just a little time to swap them out.  

I just bought an electronic deadbolt lock for my primary residence to try it out. They ranged from $50-120. I picked a medium/upper one since it was my primary residence and wanted to see how they are. They are AWESOME. I frickin love it.

I never leave my house with a key now. Granted, I have the key to the deadbolt in the garage just in case the battery goes. I will probably be placing a few for tenants. Tenant can never get locked out now. 

The one I got says "If you do 15 actions a day on the deadbolt, the batteries will last 1 year." Not too shabby.

@Christos Philippou has it right. I use battery deadbolts for every unit now and change the combo for each tenant. They cost me $60 initially and maybe $5/yr in batteries after that. Just make sure the lock slides easily. Once I had a tenant lock themselves (and their small children) out because they had adjusted the door a little without telling me and the motor wasn't strong enough to open the lock.

This is why I use the $12 knobs/deadbolts from Home Depot. I have probably 40 of them that I mix up randomly. I can swap one out in 2 minutes. I don't need to buy new ones anymore. There really is no reason to invest money in a higher quality lock, if somebody wants in they will either kick the door in or cut the bolt. I've had both happen. If not that then every house has windows.

"Do not duplicate" is just a feel good phrase, and I see no reason to collect keys from ex tenants. Just assume they are keeping one. Anybody can buy a key cutting machine and make a duplicate. Or just be friends with the minimum wage guy at Home Depot cutting the keys.

I also suspect the do it yourself key copy machine at Walmart doesn't bother to look for "do not duplicate" if you're just using a standard household size key blank.

Agree to rekey every new tenant as I believe I never get all the keys back. Takes me an hour and $35 to remove all of the locks, take them to a locksmith for new keys, and reinstall. Yes, the house is wide open for an hour but it hasn't been a problem so far.

Like @Alan G. I use the Kwikset Smartkey.  Rekeying takes about a minute without having to remove anything off the door.

Landlord for 20 years. Always rekey. The coolest thing I have found is the Smart key setup from Kwikset. You can rekey yourself in 20 seconds. I am installing them at all 26 of my units. 

For anybody using Smart Key, I have a key for every house you have. It's as easy to use as your own key.

See here:

Remember, locks only keep out honest people unless you're going to install a special door and door jamb. Most household doors are laughably easy to force open.

The best you can do is slow them down and make obvious sings of forced entry. If somebody opens your smart key lock without damaging anything, you'll be a suspect if anything goes missing.

We rekey if Kwikset or rotate the locks from a large batch used across various properties.

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We just go with the Kwikset SmartKeys.  Its so fast to rekey the locks.  The cost is really cheap and its incredibly easy to do.

I will say you have to follow the steps and be deliberate with the rekeying, or else you will end up with a lock that doesnt work for any key.  Just keep an extra lock set with you.

Overall there is no need for a locksmith to rekey your doors.  The Kwikset Smartkeys are easy, fast, and end up saving you a ton of money.

And yes you absolutely need to rekey between tenants.  In Texas its a state law.

Required or not, I'd go ahead and do it.  It starts you off on a good foot with the tenant, and it lowers potential liability.  Who know who your former tenants gave keys out to?

You may also want to look at an electronic keypad lock.  I bought one for my own house recently.  It was about $100, but you can get them for under $50.  Any time a tenant moves, you just change the code.  Plus, you never have to worry about a call at 2am because they locked themselves out.

Here in Texas the property code requires that you rekey the locks when the tenant changes.

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