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Is the landlord obliged to provide more than one set of keys?

keysHere is a question to the blog clinic from Caroline who is a tenant

I have a question about keys, I hope you can advise please.

My husband and I have started renting a house with our children, who are all over the age of 16 and therefore need their own keys.

The house is large (5 bedrooms) and there are a total of 7 doors which can be locked yet we were only given one set of keys. We asked our agent to cut some more ages before we moved in, but they told us that they were too busy and the landlord had the other set so we would have to do it ourselves.

Cutting 7 keys for 5 people is very expensive (we didn’t cut all of them for the kids – just the main doors) but the agent is refusing to pay us back saying they only have to provide one set of keys per tenancy. For a 5 bedroom house, that seems utterly ludicrous, so are they talking nonsense?

I understand your frustration but so far as I am aware this is not covered by any specific law.  It will be a matter for negotiation between you and the landlord (through the landlords agents).

So if the agents had agreed on behalf of the landlord that you would get more than one set of keys they would be obliged to provide this.  However they did not.

On the other hand, the keys you have cut belong to you, so at the end of the tenancy I see no reason why you should not insist on being re-imbursed before you return them to the agents.

What does anyone else think?

About the author

Tessa Shepperson Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is also a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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6 Responses to Is the landlord obliged to provide more than one set of keys?

  1. Mike White Martin & Co Norwich says:

    Sounds like a lazy agent or a landlord who doesn’t value his tenants (or both).
    We approach such issues from the perspective of “reasonableness”. In this situation we would say it is reasonable for the landlord to provide 2 full sets for the adults and a front door key for each of the minors over the age of 16. If there was then a family need for more keys we would ask the tenants to have these cut at their expense. While I would agree that those new keys belong to the tenant, if they then refused to return them upon vacating the property, they would be obliged under their contractual commitment to pay for a lock change. Handing back keys versus paying for locks to be changed should be a simple choice.

  2. Yes I agree it’s a matter of reasonable-ness. I’ve just checked our landlord accreditation manual and it doesn’t state that a landlord needs to provide a set number of keys to her/her tenants BUT I’d expect an accredited landlord to be fair and reasonable.

  3. It’s a no brainier, an agent/landlord should provide at least 1 full set of keys and copies for the remainder named tenants of front door keys.

    They don’t all need every key in the house. If the tenant makes copies then they should be returned to agent/landlord at the end of the tenancy. Otherwise as the previous person suggests a deduction from the deposit should be made for not returning all keys.

    There is no law that states more keys or set number should be provided its a matter of common courtesy to provide more if there are several tenants in my opinion. Plus it starts the relationship off on the right foot too.

  4. Roger Child says:

    I own 2 flats each with 2 double bedrooms. Each front door has a cylinder provided by a local Master Locksmith and 5 keys. This Master Locksmith will only provide copies on production of the original invoice for the cylinders. At the beginning of each tenancy, I offer the new tenants up to 4 keys and inform them that they will not be able to have any more cut. This gives them the security that no previous tenant has had an extra set cut and will come back one day and let himself in and rob them. I also make sure I get all the keys back at the end of the tenancy or the cost of a new restricted cylinder and 5 keys (about £150.00) is deducted from the deposit.

  5. LHA says:

    But then you have a former tenant with a set of keys to the house now occupied by others- hardly a comfortable situation if something goes missing.
    Issue an adequate no of sets of registered keys and record them in and out in the inventory.
    Its not something that needs to legislated as common sense should sort it out.

  6. Thank you all for your comments.

    My view I have to say, is that if the agent / landord has refused unreasonably to have sufficient keys cut for the adults living in the property, they are not entitled to force the tenants to hand over keys they have paid to have cut themselves, without making some form of payment – otherwise it is a form of betterment.




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