- Are you a renter?
- A college student?
- New to renting? Then you need to read this.
- Problems with your landlord? Not yet? Don’t worry; there probably will be ….. it’s normally a contentious relationship requiring you to advocate for yourself.
Step back from the situation for a moment and look at the big picture; the landlord is looking to make a profit off of renting …. or to pay for his / her property. That’s legit, but they’re obligated to provide certain things; YOUR SAFETY is a major component!
In most states, a landlord is required to change the locks so old tenants can no longer can gain entry; it’s rare that a person moves and turns in ALL the entry keys – it also common for a tenant to have given a copy to a friend for any number of reasons and it’s rare they retrieve them all and return them to the landlord …. Left behind, it may even still be “tagged” indicating the address / apt. #. Either way, he should not re-issue an old tenant’s keys to you; usually you’ll find it’s against the law to do so.
There are plenty of sites for you to get help, but some of these same sites primarily serve the landlords …… and if you’re a renter, often it may be wise enough to seek state or non-profit organizations to find help, but this info will give you a few basics where to start, but let’s start before you need help.
A landlord renting you a space, implies, that (even in a verbal contract), it is safe to reside there, yet MOST LANDLORDS, especially those renting to young people, and especially in student ‘villages’ / neighborhoods, often, do not comply with state legislation / regulations!
Most states require the landlords to protect you by a number of methods – changing the locks is one. That’s what I’ll be addressing here. It’s not said like that, in the law, but in most cases, what is said, is just as effective; you may need to go to the law library to find the state statutes, but in most cases, they exist; it’s just a matter of finding them, if you need them. Do a “search” of “landlord/tenant law” to start.
Problem is, you should not let it come to that! As a referee in a boxing match will tell you, …. and as your parents should tell you, …. “protect yourself at all times!”
If you’ve been ripped off, assaulted in some way, and there is no forced entry the police can find, then if he’s not complied with the requirements, it may still be actionable but you’ll need a lawyer and subpoenas to help. You’ll need to find proof that he has changed the locks; if he’s not done so, again, it’s probably actionable.
As a (now retired) locksmith, I warned landlords, yet found a large number of them refusing to provide even basic security …
FYI – keyed doorknobs are by-in-large worthless. They keep honest people out but …. Deadbolts whose operational key’s cuts have a radical depth change, are a necessity! Avoid, if possible, apartments which are “master-keyed.” A definition of master-keying is “controlled destruction of security for convenience.”
The “operative word” is “Controlled.”
All-too-often, even locksmith’s do not provide the needed security. It takes a professional locksmith to examine / evaluate whether a “master-keyed” system provides adequate security.
FYI: Once the information is obtained by a lawyer, I am available to do such an ‘evaluation,’ and/or appear in court as an expert witness if there is litigation planned.