Security: It’s Not “Just a Girl Thing” Anymore

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

Key LockIn my quest to find a new apartment in Chicago many years ago, I remember asking a potential landlord if he could please change the locks prior to my move in.  I explained to him that I was a single girl living alone, and I would feel more comfortable knowing there were no duplicate keys to my apartment floating around.  The landlord responded: “Oh, that’s just a girl thing.  Don’t worry your pretty little head about anything – we’ve never had any trouble in this building before.”  Well, I ended up taking the apartment anyway.  And luckily, the landlord was right -- nothing bad ever happened.  Yet, as years passed, I noticed more and more landlords implementing a company policy of rekeying locks between tenants.  However, this policy seemed to pertain mostly to larger property management companies.  Now, this policy has become a law in Illinois for most residential property landlords.

Key Lock
Even if you only rent out your own properties, you should know about this.  As of January 1, 2012, Illinois has enacted a law which requires landlords in counties with populations in excess of 3 million people to change or rekey the locks for rental units at the beginning of a new tenancy.  The only exception is for an owner occupied building with 4 units or less.  Also, non-compliant landlords can be liable for damages incurred through use of a prior tenant’s key.

What do your State laws say about changing or rekeying the locks between tenants?  Being a Broker in Texas as well as in Illinois, I am aware that changing or rekeying the locks between tenants has been a law in Texas for years.  And, although I’m not familiar with how most jurisdictions work, my experience tells me that some laws are not just drafted out of thin air.  As with other issues, like requesting traffic signals at intersections or train crossings -- typically, something bad has to happen in order to see a call to action.  Remember when hotels handed you the room key with the room number embossed on the key tag?  Times have certainly changed!  And, although it’s a little like trying to close the barn door after the horses have escaped, I guess it’s better late than never.  But, I can guarantee one thing:  clearly, there were incidences in Illinois involving the use of a prior tenant's key -- and "girls" were not the only victims.

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carie shapiro

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 02/21/2012 03:54 AM
  2. John McCormack, CRS 02/21/2012 04:12 AM
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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

There is a service called Landlord Locks * * that landlords can purchase and STILL have a master key and change cylinders for new residents....very inexpensive and gives residents peace of mind

Feb 21, 2012 03:53 AM #1
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Carie, even if you choose not to change locks, re-keying is so inexpensive that there is no excuse not to do it.

Feb 21, 2012 04:19 AM #2
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Wallace:  Thanks for the link.  I appreciate that information very much -- and I will check them out!

Chris:  Yes, and really worth the peace of mind at any cost!

Feb 21, 2012 04:56 AM #3
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Here, it is less expensive to change locks than to have them re-keyed. Mobile locksmiths charge a fortune as a "travel fee". Hardware stores used to re-key for $6.00 a pop, but they quit re-keying used locks. I'll check out Wallace's link above.

Feb 21, 2012 05:03 AM #4
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
There's no place like home.

yep, this is a new thing in Illinois, and creating lots and lots of "bidness" for locksmiths.

Feb 21, 2012 05:08 AM #5
Mary Stewart
HomeTrust Real Estate, LLC, Homes for Everyone - Wilsonville, OR
Wilsonville and Surrounding Portland Metro Areas

It surely makes sense to me to re-key or change locks for an apartment or even a house that has been on the market and not a bank owned property.  It is called safety first in my mind.  One of my buyers just signed paperwork for her new home and prior I advised her to get a post office box versus using the mailbox that faced the street.  It was not a locked mailbox and frankly since she lives alone a PO Box is safer for her.  This way her home address is not so readily visible.

Feb 21, 2012 05:42 AM #6
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Carie - It's NOT a girl thing... It's a smart thing!  I always encourage my new home owners change the locks ASAP!  I don't know what the rental market laws are but common sense says if the landlord doesn't change locks do it yourself.  I'd take safer or sorry any day!  Great post.

Feb 21, 2012 06:41 AM #7
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Cynthia:  Yes, it can get expensive.  I'm going to check out Wallace's link too!

Alan:  I'll bet it feels really good to be an Illinois locksmith right now!

Mary:  Sounds like you gave your buyer some good advice.  You're right ... you can't be too careful these day.  Actually, it's kind of sad that we have to think about safety and security so much these days.  But, I guess it's just a sign of times.

John:  Thank you!  Yes, it is a smart thing!  I think it's terrific that you remind and encourage your new homeowners to change the locks as soon as possible.  And, by the way ... thanks for the reblog, too :)

Feb 21, 2012 10:40 AM #8
Margie Kopp Sorrell
Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country - Greensboro, GA
Lake Oconee Real Estate

Carie- I agree most definitely. And I don't think it should be at the expense of the tenant(s) either. Part of being a good Landlord is making sure your properties are safe.

Feb 21, 2012 09:56 PM #9
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Margie:  I'm with you!  I think it should be a priority and a landlord's responsibility to take of that very basic security issue.  And in my opinion, it shouldn't have to be written into a law when it's really just common sense.  Or, as you say "part of being a good landlord."  Thanks for stopping by :)

Feb 22, 2012 12:14 AM #10
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

I've only rented twice and in both cases I got the properties rekeyed.  Any chance of having a stranger enter my home is too big a chance.  Rekeying is better for insurance and safety.

Feb 22, 2012 01:59 AM #11
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


Thanks for posting this. It made me check to see if it is a law in California and it is not. Did find your post from the Wallace repost of it. cheers cvc

Feb 22, 2012 03:21 AM #12
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Bryan:  I totally agree with you ... it's just not worth taking any chances.  And, since making duplicate keys is so easy ... why would anybody want to "tempt fate?"

Curtis:  You're welcome!  Thanks for reading the reblog and then stopping by to comment.  I appreciate that very much :)

Feb 22, 2012 11:02 AM #13
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h

We established a policy that all homes get either re-keyed or locks changed every time a new resident moves in. We consider it to be cheap insurance and simply being proactive. 

Feb 22, 2012 01:22 PM #14
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Mark:  That's a good policy.  And, worth it to have security and peace of mind.

Feb 23, 2012 02:29 AM #15
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