Having a set of keys to your property - How important?

14 Replies

I just closed on a few single family homes out of state that are currently tenant occupied. I was told by my real estate agent after closing that they previous owner did not have a copy of the keys to the house, as the tenant had always let them in. I asked my property management company, and they did not seem to think this was an issue.

My question, am I crazy for finding it strange that neither my property manager or I have a set of keys to the house I own? How important is this? Is it worth re-keying the houses now...or just wait and do that when current tenants move out? Any thoughts?

There is no good reason to not have a key to the property you own. What if there is a burst pipe and tenant is not home?

I would also fire a property manager that said they didn't need a key. They aren't looking out for your best interests/are extremely lazy.

@Grant D.

I don't know of any prudent landlord who would not have a key to their own property. It is YOUR property. You need access to it whenever you want. Biggest reason would be law enforcement purposes. The tenant is suspected of cooking meth in your property and the police have a warrant to search the property, who will be the first person they would contact to access the property? You, and it will be embarrassing if you have to tell them, "Oh, sorry guys, I don't have the keys to my own house." Re-key the place and have your set, simple. If the tenant don't like it, they can move out. Simple.

Originally posted by @Brian Adzadi :

@Grant D.

I don't know of any prudent landlord who would not have a key to their own property. It is YOUR property. You need access to it whenever you want. Biggest reason would be law enforcement purposes. The tenant is suspected of cooking meth in your property and the police have a warrant to search the property, who will be the first person they would contact to access the property? You, and it will be embarrassing if you have to tell them, "Oh, sorry guys, I don't have the keys to my own house." Re-key the place and have your set, simple. If the tenant don't like it, they can move out. Simple. 

 It'll be even more embarrassing when they mention the next step is to kick down the door.

You don't have to change the locks, just ask the tenant for copies of all keys. Change locks when they move out. BTW, don't go out and buy a tons of locks, just recycle 3 or 4 between properties.

In your case I would change the locks immediately and ask the PM what they are smoking. I have never heard of not having access to the rental property. And I do as @Ray Harrell mentioned above and just recycle the deadbolts between several houses. I am in the process, as people move out, of changing all my locks to no keyed door locks, just deadbolts, in order to force the tenants to take their keys with them (or be stupid and leave the house door unlocked). Doors with deadbolts only can't be accidentally locked with the keys inside, and the keyed door knobs are simple to pick or kick in. 

Why would you change the locks? It's inconvenient for the tenants and an unnecessary expense. Just ask the tenants to provide you with a set of keys. Fire the PM.

You should have a set of keys. That the PM thinks not having a key is ok is suspect imo. 

I would probably rekey it. Yes, the tenants are the same but who knows how long it’s been since previous owner rekeyed and how many keys are floating around.  I always change locks after buying a property, I don’t want to wonder that the tenant from 5 years ago’s house cleaner’s 18 y/o meth addict son has a key. 

I’ll go against the trend here

If they are long term tenents they probably will remain so.  If they don’t pay when you evict you change the locks and now have keys.  

If you or they don't renew the lease you change the locks and you have a key

Started renting 30 years ago, have never needed to use a key to gain access.   I don’t go on the house without the tenant there.   

Have never had the police call with a warrant 

New locks are like 50$ .. wouldn’t it be good to err on the side of caution out of concern that every crack head in town that has lived there in the last decade can’t just sneak In to place and rob the tenants .

@Michael Plante  I think that was the PM's point, cause my first question I asked was what would you do in an emergency (like a burst pipe) if the tenant wasn't there to let them in, and they said they would then go and place an access notice to advise the tenant maintenance is required so they will be rekeying to enter, they would rekey, and then would bill the tenant for the rekey.  It makes sense to me, and I have never had to use a key at any of my income properties before as well....but at the same time, might be worth simply asking the tenants to make a copy of the keys.

Ask them for keys and have the PM keep a set for an unlikely emergency when they are not home. If they won't provide re-key.

 @Brian Adzadi

Contrary to what you would think the cops are not calling you with a warrant.  They are showing up and kicking in the door if no one will let them in.   At least here.  Surprise the occupant so they can't hide the contraband.   Oh and after they search the place they don't notify you either, you just own the house.