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The landlord guide to changing the locks on a rental property

Changing the locks on your rental property is easy, but it’s important to be aware of the legal pitfalls.

Coming up, we’ll run through everything a landlord should know about how to change the locks of a rental property

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Why do landlords have to be careful when changing the locks on a rental property?

As a landlord, sometimes it may be necessary to change the locks on your property, and you should inform your tenants and give reasonable notice beforehand.

Changing the locks because a tenant has breached their contract, or you have fallen out with them could lead to a hefty claim against you.  

Related: Why two-thirds of landlords are considering switching to a managed let

Legal reasons why landlords change the locks

It’s important to keep your property secure for tenants, and changing the locks, with suitable notice, can be necessary and compliant for the following reasons:  

  • If your rental property’s locks have been compromised or broken.

  • If a tenant did not return the keys to the property.

  • If you want to upgrade your rental property’s locks.

  • If your tenant has requested it.

More occasions when it is possible for landlords to change the locks

As a landlord, you can change the locks on your rental property after you have given reasonable notice to tenants in the following circumstances:  

  • If you, the landlord, or members of your family live on the same property and also use its facilities.

  • If your tenant is and has been living on the property rent-free.

  • If your property is used as holiday accommodation.

Changing the locks can help improve the security of your rental property  

Changing the locks between tenants improves the security of your property.

Regular inspections and maintenance of locks will reduce issues arising. For example, if a burglary takes place, your tenant’s insurance could be invalidated, due to a lack of signs of forced entry because an old key falls into the wrong hands.

Landlords who implement a registered key system mean keys cannot be duplicated without the knowledge and signature of the landlord. Some landlords are upgrading to smart locks that use fingerprints, voice recognition, and mobile apps, which means you will no longer need traditional keys.

When is it illegal for landlords to change the locks?

If you are unfortunate enough to have a tenant in place who is behaving in an anti-social manner, not paying the rent, and has breached your tenancy agreement, you may be tempted to change the locks to evict them.

It’s vital to remain on the right side of the law. If you decide to change the locks when your tenant is out, they could claim unlawful eviction against you. If a tenant fails to leave a property or you need to evict them, there is a legal process for you to follow.

Currently, this involves serving them with a Section 8 or Section 21 notice to obtain a court order for possession.    

How will the Renters (Reform) Bill  affect this?

The government plans to strengthen Section 8 with the introduction of the Renters (Reform) Bill may change how you evict tenants. Read our guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill and speak to us today for more information about how this will affect your let.

How to change the locks of your rental property?

Maintaining a good relationship with tenants is easily achieved with good communication. If you need to change the locks, doing so at an agreed-upon time builds trust.

A fully managed letting service will keep your property compliant while taking care of everything for you, from property maintenance to rent collection. You can find out about your different letting options here.

Get more information about our managed lettings’ packages today

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