For landlords and tenants alike, replacing locks on rental property can be a significant problem if they are unaware or unclear of the law and regulatory frameworks. There are a handful of things that are imperative to know before trying to alter the locks, whether you're the landlord or the tenant.
Following are the contingencies and issues in which landlords are compelled to replace locks on rental property along with their remedial measures;
Tenants Vacating Your Rental Property;
There may be instances where a renter pays rent until the last day of the current month but decides to vacate on the 10th. You visit the property and discover that the tenant has removed the possessions but changed the locks and kept the keys instead of returning them. You are not allowed to enter the property in this situation or show it to other potential tenants. What will you do as a result? What does the law say in this situation? What happens if your rental agreement or lease does not cover situations where locks on rental property need to be changed?
In this situation, you do have the right to change the locks, but you must let your tenant know that you'll be doing so on the first of the next month. If you can't wait that long, let the tenant know that you will be replacing the locks on the rental home and that if needed, he or she can pick up the extra key. You can change the locks on the date specified in the notice whether or not the renter answers.
Because the rent has already been paid and the renter has full access to the property until the end of the month, a landlord cannot change the locks without first giving the tenant notice. Additionally, you can change the locks and deduct the costs from the tenant's security deposit because the tenant changed the locks and caused you additional hassle by keeping the keys. Nevertheless, state laws differ, so be sure to research the requirements for security deposit deduction in your state.
Infringement or Violation of Tenancy/Lease Provisions;
You should think about using the legal eviction process to keep the tenant out if they have broken any of the terms of the lease or rental agreement, such as by damaging the property or not paying rent. Simply put, you cannot change the locks and store the tenant's possessions outside the property since it is against the law to do so in every state, and if you do, the tenant will likely prevail in a lawsuit against you. As a result, the only way for a landlord to avoid problems is to adhere to the state's legal eviction process. More quickly, safely, and affordably than you may anticipate.
Rationale to Create & Implement a Lock Policy;
To avoid confusion and issues later on, include a section regulating lock changing in your lease or rental agreement. As an alternative, you might draught a lock policy and have the tenant sign it before they move in. Include conditions and circumstances that will allow you to prevent the tenant from changing the locks or asking for extra keys. Tenants may replace the locks on the rented property at any time if the lease or rental agreement doesn't specify otherwise.
Landlords have the legal right to own a key to the rental property, and tenants cannot forbid them from entering, according to the law in States like California. However, we advise that you specify the procedures for landlord inspection and the kinds of times you are permitted to visit the property. In California, unless there is an emergency, like a fire or a gas leak, you must give your tenant 24 hours' notice before entering the rental home. Clearly describe emergency situations that permit you to enter the property without notice, as well as how to handle problems with repairs and upkeep.
If you plan to permit lock changes by your tenants, make sure to specify this in the lease or rental agreement as well. Don't forget to include a clause requiring tenants to provide you a set of keys following a lock change or it will be viewed as a breach of the lease terms. Please exercise caution when granting your tenants this right because it's likely that they won't ever give you back all the keys and will instead keep one after moving out. The lack of knowledge on the part of landlords regarding whether the tenants still have a set of keys can result in a variety of future issues.
In light of this, it is always a good idea for landlords to change the locks on rental properties when they change tenants and to provide each tenant a set of keys.