CHOICE membership

Spare keys requested by real estate agent


#1

Hi, received a letter from our real estate agent lat month saying that they are requesting all tenents leave a spare set of keys at their office. They use the excuse that sometimes people lock themselves out and they get requests for spare keys.
Besides the cost for people on low income, $20 - $30 is a lot to some, then what is the legal position?
I have, and will be, ignoring this request but can they make me give them a spare set of keys?


#2

I’m surprised, I was under the impression that a landlord would already have a copy of the key.

In any case, it might depend firstly on your rental agreement. If there is nothing in your tenancy agreement, I don’t see how they can force you. If there is something in there, you may be able to apply for an order from NCAT.


#3

I wouldn’t be surprised if the real-estate agent has just realised they should have keys, and don’t - and given they have however many hundred properties on their books figured they might spread the cost of fixing their little error across all the tenants, or at least the tenants who unwittingly comply, rather than spending thousands :slight_smile: just a theory.

I reckon there is a back-story here, and would be very surprised if there is anything compelling @johnb44
to provide spare keys to the house … but I agree it’s worth checking, theres some strange laws/agreements out there!


#4

Thanks, I agree that they should usually already have copies…I like the theory that they realized they didn’t (for whatever reason) and decided to get tenents to pay for the replacements.
Is just strange…I have been renting for 30+ years, different houses, and have never heard of this before.


#5

I’ve rented a few times in almost as many years and I’ve never heard of it either … I had a house rented out (due to interstate move) where the agent recommended we keep a full set of keys and wanted three (3) sets for the tenancy - one for them and two to give to the tenant - so it definitely sounds ‘curious’.

Might be as simple as a quick phone call to the relevant authority who overseas tenancy in your state/territory - or they might have an email form for queries. Also, depending on your relationship/etc with the agent, an option might be to consider offering to get the keys cut for them, submitting the receipt and taking that amount off the next rental payment - once you have established where you stand of course. This would probably be more convenient for you than giving them the keys to cut and arranging to pick them up again and would only cost you some time. Sometimes it’s worth being ‘helpful’ at the same time you are standing your ground on cost … it would also establish that you are not refusing them the keys, just refusing to pay. Certainly a judgement call that depends on an individual situation …


#6

John, extraordinary request. All of our three off spring have been renting for the best part of the last decade. We have on and off, as well as being the landlord for several properties until recently.

Assuming there is nothing unusual, the keys you have are the ones the agent provided you with, none of what is being asked is consistent with our experiences either? The keys belong to the landlord. In the past I’ve been reminded to return any missing and any extras we may have made. At least one older agreement forbid the cutting of extra keys without permission.

Good luck.


#7

My tenancy agreement says that I can change the locks if I wish, but if I do I must lodge copies of the new key(s) with the agent. Seems fair.


#8

I also believed and was told the same when we had an investment property. We had to use the keys to access the property when it was abandoned by the tenants and they absconded with the keys.

Most real estate agencies, if one uses one to manage a property, also have the keys in between tenants.

I wonder why they didn’t approach the landlord and/or make a copy of the keys when they were in their possession.


#9

As a past landlord, I’ve always provided a set to the agents in addition to a couple of sets for the tenants. Their system involved photocopying the keys as part of the inventory for the property (along with photocopies of instruction booklets for various large appliances like air conditioners, stoves, ovens). I see it as a landlord cost, not tenant.


#10

My experience is that agents do have spare copies that are used for various reasons including tenants locking themselves out or loosing the keys . It can be a good thing and means you are not disturbed at odd hours and the agent earns their fee. Recently this happened to us and the agent charged the tenants for the keys ,which are part of the property and/or the body corporate where there is a common portal .


#11

Sounds Brian like you are the landlord or owner here?
If you look at the original post the situation appears to be very different to what might be your circumstance.
Did the tenant in your instance misplace or loose keys or request additional copies to those provided with the lease?

In the original post here it appears the agent issued the keys and neglected to retain a set for their office. It would on that basis appear irregular and unreasonable that it is the tenants cost to pay for any the keys held by the property owner/landlord or their agent. After all these keys are not the property of the tenant.

I wonder what next? Will tenants need to pay additional to get the front door key despite paying a bond and rent in advance.


#12

When I was tenanting, I routinely changed the locks with the full knowledge that

  1. In the event of a problem, I had to pay for a locksmith
  2. At the end of the lease, I had to reinstall the original locks as they were, and return all the keys.

Unless it contravenes you lease agreement somehow, give the RE Agent an old set of keys from somewhere else if you have any. If they discover they don’t work, just say you have swapped out the locks and will reinstate them on your departure.

Our locksmith is regularly called out to open (pick) locks in these situations. The cost is passed on to the tenants if it can be recovered.


#13

Queensland Rental Agreement says that the Landlord should have a spare set of keys.


#14

Thank you @ardew. It was a long time ago, in a land far, far away. :grin:


#15

@johnb44,

Real-estate agents try to push tenants to do things that they don’t have to do. Expecting the property in a better condition than it was before renting, requesting the property professionaly cleaned, etc are quite common.

In my experience, if you don’t question them they would take advantage. So as eveone has suggested, read the rental agreement. Then read your states rental laws.

I have lived in NSW and VIC and I have not seen such requirements in those two states.


#16

I totally agree about the laws in Qld, Ardew. As an ex PM I know that we always had at least one full set of keys locked away with only codes on them which were identified to us via our computers. We also separated the keys onto the photo copier, copied them and identifed what the keys were for. The tenants were given a copy of this, and we had them sign a copy for their file. This way when they were returned at tenancy end we could tell if any were missing. If the tenants couldn’t find them they had a responsibility to have a locksmith attend to either cut the keys to the locks, or take a spare key from us and have another one cut. It may seem tough, but it always worked.


#17

For Queensland, the following comes from the RTA general tenancy agreement:

28 Supply of locks and keys – s 210
(1) The lessor must supply and maintain all locks necessary to ensure the premises are reasonably secure.
(2) The lessor must give the tenant, or if there is more than 1 tenant, 1 of the tenants, a key for each lock that –
(a) secures an entry to the premises; or
(b) secures a road or other place normally used to gain access to, or leave, the area or building in which the premises are situated; or
(c ) is part of the premises.
(3) If there is more than 1 tenant, the lessor must give the other tenants a key for the locks mentioned in subclause (2)(a) and (b)

It is quite clear in Queensland that the Lessor (or its agent) is responsible for the management of keys and not the tenant. I would suggest that if the same request was made in Queensland, one would be in their rights to refuse such a request…unless the tenant had changed the locks for some reason. Changing lock provisions in the same agreement are:

29 Changing locks – ss 211 and 212
(1) The lessor or the tenant may change locks if -
(a) both agree to the change; or
(b) there is a tribunal order permitting the change; or
(c ) there is a reasonable excuse for making the change.
Example of a reasonable excuse –an emergency requiring the lock to be changed quickly
(2) The lessor or tenant must not act unreasonably in failing to agree to the change of a lock.
(3) If a lock is changed, the party changing it must give the other party a key for the changed lock unless –
(a) a tribunal orders that a key not be given; or
(b) the other party agrees to not being given a key.


#18

I have owned rental properties since 1988 and I have always had to leave a spare set of keys for each one with the agent.

Tenants sometimes do lose their keys and possibly what this agent is saying is they want a spare set in case this happens. Because when the tenants borrow the keys to get back in they fail to return them and then the agent has no keys. I have experienced this a couple of times but only 1 or 2 in a 100 tenants. We always have a spare set of keys as well and on the odd occasion that the tenants don’t return the keys we can get another set cut.

I believe you could get the tenant to pay for key cutting if they lose their keys but it is up to the landlord to supply one set of keys to the agent in addition to the sets provided to the tenant.


#19

It’s reassuring to know there are landlords who view owning a rental property as a way of sharing good fortune and providing a home for others.

Unfortunately there are also landlords who treat rental as purely for profit and maximising personal benefit? Agents have a duty to act in the best interest of the client (owner).

If the topic of spare keys for the agent as detailed in this thread is such a significant issue, now could we ever expect to progress to solutions for more significant property rental concerns, including fair access and longer term leases of five to ten years.