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Question

During the Tenancy (England) | England | Entry and Refusal (England)

Changing locks because of lost keys

8 Jul 2021 | 1 comment

I have a question about changing locks.

My tenant is currently abroad. At tenant’s request, I gave spare keys to his friend in order for the friend to get some tenant’s belongings whilst he was abroad. The key was supposed to be returned within 2 days but was not returned. The tenant is not responding to questions about returning the spare key and I do not have the friend’s number. It was stupid of me to give out this spare key out but what’s done is done.

Now the tenant is saying that he also lost the key that he took abroad with him.

I did an inspection of the property and it looks ok – the tenant’s belongings are cleared out, the friend was doing some repairs. The tenant’s belongings were cleared out because he was saying that he wanted to move out early (which is why the friend got a spare key) but the tenant changed his mind and decided to stay until the end of the tenancy now. He will be returning to continue his tenancy. He is not bothered about a spare key being with his friend or the key that he lost, he is ignoring questions about keys or changing the locks.

A few questions:

  1. With 2 keys that I cannot really account for, can I change the locks to the property (and communicate to the tenant that I am happy to give him the key to the property when he returns or post a key to him)? Do I need explicit consent from the tenant to legally change the locks?
  2. Can I report the spare key (the one that was not returned) as stolen? It is technically not my home – it’s the tenant’s – but it is my key. What would be the implications of reporting it?
  3. My landlord’s insurance covers change of locks due to the key being lost or stolen. Would I need the tenant to file a police report to state that he lost his keys in order to claim that?
  4. My landlord’s insurance states that I “must ensure that the premises are adequately protected and secure at all times, when the property is unoccupied”, otherwise it is invalid. If I cannot change the locks, what can I do to ensure my policy remains valid?

I served S21 which expires in 3.5 months.

Answer

1 Comment

  1. guildy

    We answer in order.

    1. Because the tenancy is now continuing again, you would ideally need express consent to change the locks. If the tenant wants to report the problem to you, you can then replace.
    2. Fairly sure the police will have better things to do.
    3. Firstly, as we believe this is for the tenant to report as a repair request in the first instance, not relevant until you actually need to change the locks (the tenant might just sort it themselves when they return). Also, we suspect any excess wouldn’t make a claim worthwhile plus you will have a claim registered which could increase premiums next renewal. We can’t imagine such a quick and easy job would be worth claiming for. Otherwise, you will need to check the terms of the policy as to what’s required to claim.
    4. We believe from everything you describe the premises are adequately secure (the doors are locked presumably). You could check with your insurance to be sure though if you prefer. It might be worth checking how many days it’s allowed to be unoccupied for under the policy as that could be of more concern.

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