Q. I pick up the keys to my new rental apartment next week but quite honestly I really don’t feel comfortable to live there without changing the locks. I know the agent mentioned it have been rented out for years so goodness knows how many previous sets of tenants still have keys. Do you think this would be possible, a friend said I could be breaking the lease if I do this?
A. I am almost certain you would be in breach of lease if you did so. Most AST’s (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) agreements would usually contain a clause that forbids tenants from changing the locks. Do check your contract and see where you stand legally on this point but I have a feeling it will reflect my previous comments. If this really is such an issue for you then I would suggest you contact your agent to flag your concerns to see if he would be willing to discuss the possibility of a lock change with your landlord. Of course the landlord is perfectly within his rights to refuse point blank but it’s always worth asking the question at least to see if this may be possible. I would maybe suggest that you request a lock change but assure the landlord that you will be prepared to have two spare sets cut at the same time at your own cost to pass over to the agent. This should help to alleviate any concerns they may have and reiterate that you are genuine and are simply doing so to prevent any previous tenants from gaining access should there be any old keys still floating around. Usually all keys should be handed in at the end of the tenancy to pass on to the next set of tenants so this should prevent any security issues but of course we cannot prevent the tenant from getting further sets cut once they have moved in and I guess in most cases people would so this isn’t a completely watertight way of preventing stray keys being available once they have vacated. All in all it is a valid concern even though the majority of tenants don’t seem anxious over this but if you do feel so strongly then I am sure something can be worked out so that you can feel at ease in your new home.