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keys in the door

Changing Locks When You Move In

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When you move into a new house, condo, townhouse, or apartment you can be sure that many other people have had copies of your keys for any number of legitimate reasons. Where are all those copies now? Changing locks will protect you in the event some keys to your home end up in the wrong hands. No matter if you rent, own, or are part of an association you need to be sure you and your family are the only ones with keys to your home.

If you are renting an apartment or house, the owner or manager is responsible for changing locks between tenants. Speak with your landlord to find out who will have access to the house or apartment. When renting a house it is common for only the owner to have spare keys in case of an emergency. Apartment complexes typically use a lock system that allows employees such as maintenance men to use a master key to enter any apartment. This way the maintenance crew doesn’t have to carry a ten pound key ring. Do not change the locks in an apartment without first speaking to the landlord or investigating the terms of your lease.

When you move into a condo or townhouse many aspects of your property may be governed by the community association. This often includes many cosmetic factors, and what your front door lock looks like from the outside may be one of them. Speak with your association representative before changing locks. You can always have them rekeyed to preserve uniformity of appearance in the community.

When you buy your own home the decision and responsibility are all yours. Deadbolt locks such as tubular locks and mortise locks require different types of holes to be drilled in the door. Changing locks or rekeying is important and the choice is up to you. Trying to re-drill holes in a door for a different lock type may look bad and compromise the integrity of the door. If several exterior doors have been keyed to take the same key it is usually more convenient to have a locksmith rekey the locks.

Changing locks is essential to your home’s security no matter where you move. You do not need the extra worry of wondering if the previous owner’s cousin or neighbor has a key to your house, or if the different sub-contractors, realtors, friends or relatives can let themselves into your home. Changing locks or rekeying of locks by a local locksmith will ensure your safety, security, and privacy.

The most important areas to secure are the exterior doors, the door connecting the garage to the house, and the "garage man" door, which leads from the outside into the garage. There are several reasons why this is such an important thing to address when moving into a new place:

Are the old locks any good? They may be old, rusty, or poor quality. They may have been jimmied, picked, or broken into. You can’t be sure about their integrity, so maximize your own security by selecting and installing the locks of your choice.

Who has the keys? Sure, you could rekey a lock if you suspect the keys are floating around out there, but for a little more you could have a brand new lock, one with superior security features to those currently on the doors.

Will the installation of the old locks hold up over time? The door jamb could be weak or warped, the strike plate screws may be too short, the alignment of the housing mechanism and strike plate could be off. And if the old lock set is really bad or so poorly installed that a new one can’t fit properly into the holes that are there, you may have to spring for a brand new door as well. Yes, it’s another added expense, but once again–do you want to be frugal when it comes to safety?

What if the old locks are key controlled? This is actually a good thing, but since you can’t easily make copies of the original keys, you’d probably have to rekey the whole thing. And at that point, you might as well just install a new lock set. Consult with a qualified locksmith or the local police department for recommendations when you move into your new place.

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