We have been inundated with one question lately. A knotty question that some of our clients have repeatedly asked us. Today, we will address the question ‘can a landlord charge for rekeying?’. Locks are an indispensable security device that keeps all your property and loved ones safe. With a high-security lock, you wouldn’t have to worry about unauthorised entry into your apartment. Rekeying is the process of replacing an old lock with a new one (further details on that will be provided later). Changing of lock differs from rekeying. This is the reason for the confusion about who is responsible for taking care of the rekeying expenses. But one thing is clear – throughout occupancy, the landlord is expected to fix up a secured environment for the tenant.

Can a landlord charge for rekeying

What is rekeying

Wikipedia defines rekeying as the procedure involved in ‘replacing the old lock pins with new lock pins’. Rekeying is different from replacing a lock. When a locksmith does the task of rekeying, he takes the lock apart and changes the ‘key pins’ ( They are also called tumblers). After rekeying your lock, its mechanism and functionality will remain intact, but you will be required to use a new key. 

Your key has ridges which correspond with the lock’s pin or tumblers. This arrangement is why your door unlocks when you use that specific key. When you rekey a lock, you reposition or arrange the lock’s inner parts differently so as not to match that of the current key. Hence, a new key. In direct contrast, changing of lock will require total removal of the entire lock. It will involve a change of the lock mechanism. The locksmith will loosen the screw of the lock, take away the old lock and replace it with a new one. 

Rekeying is cheaper than changing the lock. Though two processes are very affordable and a professional locksmith can complete both within an hour.

Read: Can You Rekey a Lock Yourself

When should the landlord pay for rekeying?

Before we analyse this question further, you must know that if the lock wears out or becomes damaged due to old age during the period of the tenant’s occupancy, then the landlord is expected to pay for that. The landlord is also expected to pay for rekeying if he wants to upgrade the functionality or mechanism of the lock. The tenant will bear responsibility for the expenses of rekeying if he damages the lock or requests a rekey. 

The landlord should pay for rekeying of lock in the following circumstances:

  • After a tenant moves out or packs out from the apartment, the landlord should pay for rekeying of the lock before he rents out the property to a new tenant to guarantee the safety and security of the new tenant.
  • In cases of wearing out or damage of lock due to old age, the landlord is expected to pay for the rekeying cost. 

Read: Can you rekey a lock without the original key

When should the tenant pay for rekeying?

  • Whenever the tenant desires to rekey their lock, the tenant is expected to take care of the cost. For instance, whenever a spouse or live-in housekeeper vacates the apartment.
  • The tenant is expected to cover the cost of rekeying if he or his visitor for some reason or in some manner damages the lock. For instance, in the process of opening the door, the key gets stuck inside or in the event of misplaced keys. 

Read: Is It Cheaper To Rekey Or Replace Locks

Final thoughts

We advise tenants to sign a tenancy or rental lease agreement with landlords before moving in. This will eliminate confusion, once the lease has a provision that caters to lock and key changes. The document should conform to the tenancy laws of the land. When a landlord wants to rekey a lock during the period of tenancy, he is expected to give the tenant plenty of notice. For the reason of safety or personal desire, a tenant is free to rekey his lock but has to notify the landlord or better still, put it in writing (in accordance to the tenancy lease agreement). 

A landlord should never rekey a lock to lock a tenant out, even when the tenant is destructive or is defaulting on rent payment. Landlords should go through the proper legal eviction channel for that or risk being sued.