Given the competitive nature of the rental market in Melbourne, and especially the inner-city, finally signing on the dotted line of your lease is an exhilarating feeling.
Maybe you’ve just moved out of home with your best friend, or you and the family are renting while renovating your home. Either way, weekends spent loitering out the front of open houses, or filling in endless rental application forms are over.
However, in between organising movers and unpacking boxes, it’s important to understand your rights as a renter, especially when it comes to your security. At the same time, landlords should ensure their property is as safe as possible – not only are you legally required to secure your rental property for insurance purposes, the safer your tenant feels, the more likely they are to stay on for the long term.
As a New Tenant
Can I get the locks changed?
If you are moving into a new property that has not had its locks changed by the landlord, you can organise to have the locks changed. You’ll need to make sure you give a copy of the new keys to the landlord or property manager.
Can I add an extra layer of security like a gate lock or deadlock?
Older homes in particular may lack security aspects such as gate locks and deadlocks. If you ask, most landlords would be happy to upgrade the security of your rental property, but you may be responsible for the cost.
You should always check with your landlord or property manager before rekeying or adding new locks to your rental property. If you don’t, or you don’t provide a copy of the new keys, you may be in breach of your rental agreement.
As a Landlord
Help your tenants feel secure
Finding new tenants for your rental property can often be a daunting process and often, your property will go from lease-to-lease without a change of locks.
However, securing your asset is so important – not only to protect your home, but for the safety (and enjoyment) of your tenants. Ideally, you would change the locks at the start of each new tenancy agreement.
Don’t underestimate the peace-of-mind you give tenants when they know the property they are about to move into has been re-keyed. When your tenants feel from day one that you have their best interest in mind, this instills a good relationship.
Keep your property safe
Sometime tenancies don’t work out, or for some reason you are given a reason to not trust a previous occupier of your property. Rekeying the home will give you, and your next tenants, peace of mind.
At the end of a lease
A tenant must make every reasonable effort to ensure all keys are returned to the landlord when leaving a home or apartment. If you’re unable to return the keys, or have lost any keys related to the property, you may be liable for the cost of rekeying the locks.
For any information regarding the responsibility of landlords or tenants in Victoria, visit Consumer Affairs Victoria.