What do you do when a tenant leaves and does not give you the keys?

What do you do when a tenant leaves and does not give you the keys?

23:43 PM, 7th March 2013, About 9 years ago 14

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tenant leaves and does not give you the keysYou may get tenants who from time to time leave without giving you the keys. You know the ones… They have some arrears, have left the house, shall we say “lived in” (by prehistoric savages) and don’t want to be accountable for their actions, so they “done one”.

Being a lawyer you’re then faced with the most used legal principle, that being “Sod’s Law” – ie this being the house that you did not keep a spare set of keys! So now you have delays and a locksmith to worry about to get in.

Keys also present a problem when a tenant loses one. If you don’t have the original, there is a locksmith cost again (£100-130). Or the tenant may put a brick through the door window and blame the neighbours…

There are other good reasons to keep keys. If you need to access the property for repairs, especially to do gas checks, you need to give them to contractors.

As a letting agent, the whole issue of keys can get frustrating – particularly the endless calls to locksmiths and visits to key cutting providers.

So we now have our own key cutting service in-house. What amazes you is the vast array of keys! We stock over 400. But now we can issue keys to tenants or contractors quickly, provide additional sets if required and we always have a master set at the office. It also means that we don’t have to wait around or waste time getting keys cut.

So the next time you let out a property, make sure you keep a master set 🙂

Best wishes,


Glenn Ackroyd


16:52 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Not just a problem about regaining the property - they have rights to any items (including rubbish) they leave in the house - if you dispose of anything they can then sue you for the replacement cost.

Based on personal experience take the advice of a solicitor and also try to find them and get them to sign saying they have moved out and that you can dispose of anything they have left behind.

Industry Observer

17:49 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Yes as I say tricky area and I could do a whole day training on this subject and related Statute mainly Protrection From Eviction Act 1977.


Yes Tort of Goods Act also 1977 is the key here - you become an involuntary baillee in theory for 3 months


good news is if you can show you have made every effort to contact the owner and give them the opportunity to collect or arrange to have collected their items then after 2 weeks waiting you can remove.

Other point is in 20 years I have never, ever known anything of significant vvalue i.e. three figures, be left in a property. Always rubbish and junk. Just be ultra careful with personal items that may have sentimental value. But then again who leaves their family album behind.

If anything does have big value chances are 50/50 it is either stoolen or on a credit agreement - serious comment

10:00 AM, 30th April 2013, About 9 years ago

I've had letting agents lose keys, and I have lost keys myself too (fool!). I think spare sets are needed, and make sure they are well labelled. Saves lots of headaches in the future. Good on you for having your own key cutting service!

Has anyone had locks changed every 5 or so years for security reasons?

14:14 PM, 30th April 2013, About 9 years ago

HI Keith,
We change locks after every tenant leaves. We just change the barrel of either the Yale type or Euro type, keep a spare barrel and rotate them around our properties as tenants leave. No material costs and it takes about five minutes to change. No past tenant knows where that barrel has gone, all new tenants have a secure property and it costs nothing but a tiny amount of time. You can even do it while you are checking the old tenant out or the new tenant in.

Obviously keep keys with the spare barrel and swap them around at the same time!

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