When a tenant moves out of an apartment, and a new one moves in, it can be a nerve-wracking time. The landlord is hoping that the new occupant will abide by the rules and be a responsible tenant. Likewise, the person moving in is hoping that he or she has found a nice, safe area where they can enjoy the next chapter of their lives.
To help maintain that sense of security, it’s not uncommon for new tenants to ask their landlords to re-key their property. Re-keying a unit is often seen as an easy and efficient way to make a home or apartment relatively secure. This process ensures that others who may have come into contact with the residence are not still able to gain access. But is it always necessary?
Reasons to Re-Key
When it comes to the question of re-keying, there are several reasons why this is a good idea.
1) Stopping Previous Residents From Having Access
The first and most obvious reason is to prevent previous residents from gaining access to the residence after they move out. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for an earlier tenant to try and get in an apartment again at some point, even after they’ve moved out.
It’s tempting to think that this is always done with the intent of committing a crime (and this is, sadly, often the case). However, in some instances, there might not be any real evil intent. The person in question might have lost something, and thus he or she stops by to see if it’s still there. Finding no one at home, they decide to just pop in and check . . .Ill intent or not, this is considered breaking and entering, and re-keying the locks can prevent this.
2) Stopping Others Who Had Copies of the Key
Another problem that could be more important to think about is the fact that anyone could potentially have a copy of the key. Think about it: during the time the previous tenants lived there, how many people did they loan their key out to? How many people had a copy of the key at one time so they could pet-sit, drop something off, pick something up, or bring in the mail or water the plants?
There is no way to know just how many people have potentially had access to the residence in the past. More importantly, there’s also no way of telling how honest all of those past key-holders actually are.
Even worse – if the landlord is not in the habit of re-keying locks, then who knows how long those locks have been this way? This opens the door (pun intended) to virtually anyone who has lived at that place at one time or another. The list, at this point, becomes endless.
3) Instilling a Sense of Control
What it all boils down to is control. Even if scenarios one and two listed above don’t come true, and no one out there has copies of the key, how can a new resident know this? How can he or she feel secure in his or her new place? Somewhere in the back of his or her mind, there will always be the nagging worry that someone, at some time, could break in easily because they have a key.
By re-keying the locks, the landlord allows the new resident to be able to control who can enter.
4) Creating a Sense of Trust
A landlord’s refusal or unwillingness to re-key the residence speaks to a more profound issue: trust. Considering that re-keying a lock is a relatively quick and cost-effective way for a landlord to secure a door, an unwillingness to do so speaks volumes about how much the landlord actually cares for the safety of his tenants.
Any tenant who is meeting with this kind of resistance from the landlord needs to stop and ask whether or not this sort of hassle is worth the risk. Why stay somewhere where the landlord is apparently not concerned with the safety and peace of mind of the residents under his or her care?
Even though it’s not a state law that landlords re-key a lock, the fact is that going through this process is a good idea. For all the reasons above — security, control, and trust — when a new tenant moves into a residence, the landlord should re-key the lock.
You shouldn’t even wait for the request to be made. Instead, take the initiative and present the new residents with their own key when they move in. Make sure they know they can feel safe in their new home, and start your relationship off on the right foot.
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