Personal and family security are crucial when moving home. Having a clear strategy for any lock changing is absolutely essential. Your move may be very simple but even so, we recommend adding: ‘Changing Locks’ to your to-do list and follow this simple check-list to ensure you have taken any actions that you need.
1. Newly Built Home
This is the most straightforward situation. Your locks and keys will be brand new and you will be in full control. Remember that most insurance companies require deadlocks on all external doors and locks that require a key on all accessible windows. Check with your current or new insurer before you move in, to make sure you have sufficient locks in place.
2. Buying an Existing House
It is recommended that you change the locks on all external doors and accessible windows. The chances of the previous owner using keys to access your property is very slim. But you can never be sure who they have leant keys to in the past or even a simple case of them losing a key and an unknown person has picked it up and can somehow trace it to your place. Replacing locks is also a good way to ensure all your locks meet your insurance requirements.
3. Buying an Apartment, Unit or Townhouse
You may need to check the Owners Corporations (sometimes called Body Corporate) guidelines of the building you have bought into. There may be restrictions around the kinds of locks that you can install and preferred suppliers. Make this a priority, preferably before you move in or as soon as possible. As with any new abode, you want to feel completely secure and not worried about who out in the world might have keys to your apartment.
Of course most apartment buildings will have external keys or codes to enter the building itself as well as perhaps undercover parking or secure garages. You need to ensure you have all requisite keys and codes and also know the process should you want to request extra keys or request a change (eg: if the whole building is burgled or cars are vandalised).
When it comes to units and townhouses, similar guidelines may apply in terms of consulting the Owners Corporation or similar body. Also, there are often questions of style and design to consider. If you want to install a screen door but no other units have them, how is it best to approach this?
4. Moving into a Rental Property
All of the same security recommendations apply when moving into a new rental property, be it a house, apartment, unit or townhouse.
What makes matters slightly more complicated is that as you are not the owner you will need to seek permission to change locks or install new locks.
Landlords are obliged to ensure all external doors have locks and all windows can be secured. Landlords are not legally obliged to change locks when new tenants move in. Most real estate agents have a register of keys issued to past tenants and so can verify – to an extent – that no extraneous keys to your rental property are out in the world.
You may still wish to arrange for locks to be changed. This could be due to your insurance company or just your own peace of mind.
When you make this request, be firm, clear and polite. You may be dealing directly with your landlord or with a real estate agent. In most cases they may approve the change of locks but you will be responsible for payment. In some cases they may even request that you change the locks back to the original when you move out and that you bear the cost of both changes and any subsequent damage to doors or windows.
Don’t get so worried about changing locks that it diminishes from your pleasure in your new place – whether bought or rented. Act with caution and common sense.
Jeremy works with Five Star Locksmiths (Melbourne). Five Star Locksmiths provide 24 hour locksmith services in Melbourne’s CBD and its suburbs. Jeremy writes content that provides value to the readers.