Can I retain keys for my tenanted property?

Most landlords like to retain a set of keys for tenanted properties to use in case of emergencies, to gain access for routine maintenance or to assist the tenant if they lose their keys. There is no legislation dictating whether or not landlords are allowed to retain a set of keys. Although it is generally considered to be acceptable, we do recommend as best practice that members use the key agreement on the SAL website (members please remember to log in to download SAL documents), to obtain their tenant’s express permission to retain keys and to agree the circumstances in which the tenant is agreeable to them being used.

We do not recommend that landlords use keys to access a tenanted property unless they have the tenant’s express permission for this or there is a genuine emergency. If a tenant is refusing access for maintenance checks or repair works then you should use the tribunal’s right of entry procedure to assist with access.

A related question is whether the tenant is entitled to change the locks at the property during their occupation. Again, there is no legislation on this but we take the view that it is likely to be considered unreasonable to prevent tenants from doing this, if they consider it necessary to feel secure in their home. They may not be willing to provide the landlord with a copy of the new keys and if not then we would recommend that the landlord makes it clear that they will pursue the tenant for any costs they incur in having to force access in the event of an emergency.

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