Ask Member Support: Extra keys for tenants
We recently replaced the front door lock of our building due to its age and to manage some security issues we’ve been having. Many non-residents seemed to have their own keys to the front door that were copied and given out by residents. The keys for our new front door locks are supposed to be impossible to duplicate and we have given each tenant two keys for their own use.
One of our residents is requesting two keys in addition to the ones she has already received. She gave us the names of the people to whom she planned to give the extra keys, but didn’t give us reasons for why they needed them. We want to respect her rights, but we just resolved the issue with building security and we don’t want to be back in a situation where too many non-residents have keys. Is it within our rights as a landlord to restrict the number of keys we provide to residents?
This can be a tricky subject. Many people have legitimate reasons to provide keys to personal care workers and friends and family who provide supports or just as a backup, along with a host of other reasons. Section 24 of the Residential Tenancies Act stipulates that a landlord must provide tenants with keys if the lock is changed, but it doesn’t specify how many keys should be provided, leaving landlords to develop their own policies and procedures around the subject.
Ultimately, it is up to your organization to decide how you handle these situations. We typically advise that keys or fobs for exterior locks are limited to household members only, but we understand that exceptions might be made for tenants who rely on family or support workers.
You might look into developing a specific policy for the distribution of additional keys. For example, you may require that tenants requesting additional keys for the exterior building lock provide the names of individuals who would receive the keys, as well as the valid reasons as to why they need them. You could also require that tenants cover the cost of additional keys beyond the ones they are provided by default. It’s a good idea to have tenants sign for their keys and require them to surrender all keys issued to them when they move out.
Having a policy in place that outlines the criteria for issuing extra keys would help you avoid these grey areas in the future and take the guesswork out of addressing each situation on a case-by-case basis. If this is an ongoing issue in your building, you may consider adding a clause in your lease that addresses the issue as well.
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