Locksmith services are a necessary part of renting a property. And as a locksmith, you've probably received countless panicked calls from apartment renters asking for help. But who pays the locksmith - the landlord or the tenant?
It's common to assume landlords are responsible for the cost of locksmith services and repairs. However, this is only sometimes the case.
In this post, we'll review whether a landlord or tenant should pay for locksmith services and whether there are any exceptions to the rule.
Locks on outside doors serve two purposes: deter trespassers and secure a dwelling unit, ensuring the safety of the occupants and their goods.
One of a landlord's frequent responsibilities is replacing locks for security purposes.
However, there is a cost associated with rekeying locks or letting in locked-out renters, leaving many landlords and renters wondering who is responsible for this expense.
Landlords should be held responsible for any billing occurring in the following situations.
Depending on the rental agreement and terms, the landlord is responsible for providing lock and key services.
The rekeying of locks between tenants is an expense that landlords should cover. In other words, before a new renter comes in after the previous one moves out, locksmiths should rekey the locks to maintain the security of the unit.
Cutting a New Key for an Apartment Door
This will make it so the former renter and anyone they may have given a key cannot get back into the apartment.
Landlords should pay to have the locks fixed if they cease working for any reason, such as old age and worn tumblers. This would be even the case if the locks were installed by the landlord, as it's their responsibility to ensure the hardware remains in good working order throughout a tenant's tenancy.
If a landlord is upgrading locks to a new mechanism or making other modifications to aid property management, they should pay to have the locks rekeyed.
Rental Property Lock Installation
Always remember that landlords cannot alter tenants' locks to get them to leave their rental.
The court must release paperwork releasing the unit to them before they can replace the locks as part of the eviction procedure.
Landlords typically make clear who is responsible for paying for locksmith services in a variety of situations so that renters know what to budget for. If a tenant has locked themselves out, for example, they should expect to pay to get back into their unit.
Tenants should be held responsible for locksmith services in the following situations.
In general, tenants are expected to pay for a lock change whenever they request one. The need for new locks in a shared dwelling often arises after a tenant has moved out.
Another reason might be that the renter previously handed a key to a relative or friend who should no longer have access to the apartment.
Tenants may request a different lock or hardware for their front door, deadbolts, and doorknobs. In these situations, the landlord is not responsible for the cost of the locksmith service.
If a tenant requests a different lock, a copy of the new keys needs to be given to the landlord, and the previous keys returned.
Regardless of whether the renter is a part-time or full-time resident, the landlord must maintain access to the rented property at all times in case of an inspection or emergency. This in no way authorizes entry into the property without prior notification to the tenant.
Tenants are responsible for the cost of rekeying, repairing, or replacement of locks if they or their visitors cause damage to the lock.
Actions by the Tenant Resulting in Lock Damage May Make Them Responsible for Lock Replacement Costs
Lock damage is usually caused by a tenant who has lost the keys to the unit or someone else who does not have permission to enter the apartment. The landlord is not responsible for any damage caused by a lock that has been tampered with by a tenant or their guests.
When a key breaks off within the lock of an apartment, the landlord will not be responsible for replacing or repairing it. Generally a key broken off in a lock is the result of user error. Therefore, the tenant is liable for any damages caused by a broken key and must pay to repair or replace the lock.
Occasionally, tenants want a second set of keys for their children or another family member to have access to the unit. The landlord is not responsible for providing additional keys, even if the tenant has requested them. If a tenant wants another set of keys for another occupant, they must pay for them themselves.
If they have misplaced their keys and want replacements, tenants will also be expected to pay for them. Most written lease agreements require tenants to pay the costs associated with the loss of keys.
So in most cases, the tenant is contractually obligated to pay. If a landlord does not have a written lease agreement, they are usually not responsible for providing replacements. However, if the tenant has requested additional keys and their landlord refuses, then this may be grounds to terminate the rental agreement.
Some situations between a landlord and tenant are a gray area regarding who pays for lock changes. We'll look at these next.
If a tenant accidentally locks themselves out of their apartment, they may call a locksmith to come out and unlock the door. Some landlords will allow tenants to call locksmiths on their dime, but others may want to avoid paying for a tenant's mistake.
In the case of a lock-out situation, it's usually best for the tenant to call the landlord directly. The landlord will have another set of backup keys and should be able to let them back into their locked apartment.
A locksmith should only need to respond to a situation like this if the landlord reacts quickly enough.
If a locksmith is called, they usually charge the landlord a fee for coming out and unlocking an apartment door. If the tenant reaches a locksmith after hours, they may incur additional charges. This is because most locksmiths have a schedule and can only be called during business hours.
If the landlord replaces locks due to a break-in or other crime, they may choose whether or not tenants are responsible for paying for replacement costs.
For example, if the tenant was robbed, the landlord is more likely to pay for the replacement of the locks.
However, if the police broke down the door to arrest the tenant, it's more likely that the tenant will be held responsible for fixing the lock.
Locksmiths should work with landlords to ensure they are compensated for their services.
Even if eviction procedures are underway or rent hasn't been paid for a long time, in most places, it is never appropriate or legal to lock a renter out of the home for any reason.
In most cases, this is a "self-help" eviction, a kind of eviction forbidden by law.
It is common for lease agreements to cover rules relating to the reimbursement of locksmith services. Landlords and tenants need to be clear about their responsibilities in this regard.
If a tenant hires a locksmith, the landlord may hold them responsible for necessary repairs or replacements. If the landlord hires a locksmith, they may charge additional fees to cover their costs.
Lease agreements protect both the landlord and tenant from any potential legal issues that may arise from the agreement. The locksmith is saved from not getting paid because the lease agreement specifies who will pay for such services.
A clause within most lease agreements details the responsibilities of both parties, tenant, and landlord, in the event of property damage, theft, or burglary.