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Apartment Key Essentials: What Seattle Renters Need to Know


apartment key


Getting the keys to a new apartment can be exciting, but this also carries a lot of responsibility. Here’s what you need to know and what you need to do when you get the apartment keys to your new place and when you turn them in.

Rekeying the Locks

Rekeying locks uses the same components, but requires a new key to work the lock. This means that any keys that worked to gain entry to the apartment before will no longer work. Tenants are supposed to turn in their keys before they move off, but rekeying the lock ensures that the old keys no longer work

Talk to Your Landlord About Rekeying

Each city and state have their own laws, but some municipalities, Seattle included, require landlords to rekey an apartment at their own expense prior to new tenants moving in. Before moving into your new place ask the landlord if all of the locks have been rekeyed. If the locks have not been rekeyed you can ask the landlord to take care of this. Make this request in writing, so there is a record.

Inspect the Locks

Before moving in look at all of the locks and security features. Try all of the keys you are given in the locks to confirm everything works. Make note of any issues, like a loose door knob, or if a key sticks. Address any problems or concerns with your landlord or property manager, so the issues can be resolved.

Talk to Your Landlord

Go over the basics concerning your keys with your landlord or property manager. Make sure you know and understand the policies upfront, so if you should have an issue you will know how to proceed.

Lost Keys

Find out who to contact if you lose a key. Make sure to program the phone number for this contact into your phone, so you can notify him or her if you are locked out. When a tenant loses a key they are normally responsible for the cost of a new key. Ask what this cost is ahead time, so you will know if necessary.

Number of Keys

Some property managers put a limit on how many keys a tenant can have. Find out if there is a limit for your new apartment. Ask who else has keys. Typically, the landlord or property manager will have keys to your place, but it can be useful to know if there is anyone else. For security purposes you should know who has keys to your apartment, but this is also handy information if you are ever locked out.

Copying Keys

Having a few extra copies of your key can be useful. Before you do anything make sure you are allowed to make copies. Review your lease to ensure you do not violate the terms of the contract. Review the keys themselves and look to see if “Do Not Duplicate” is etched onto the key. If so making a copy is out.

What to do With Your Keys

Getting keys to a new apartment is always exciting, but once the excitement dies down there are a few things to be mindful of with your new keys.

Handing Out Your Spare

Giving a spare key to a trusted friend or relative can save a lot of hassle and even money if you end up locked out or if you misplace your key. Carefully choose who you give your spare key. The ideal person will be someone you trust and feel safe around. Keep in mind that this person will have access to your home and all of the items in it. Nearby relatives and the closest of friends are good candidates. Avoid giving your spare key to neighbors and significant others.

Hiding a Spare

It can be very tempting to hide a spare key outside your place just in case you lock yourself out, but resist the temptation. As easy as it is for you to use a hidden spare to get into your place it is just as easy for a criminal to use, too.

Moving Out

When you move out you will need to wrap up all loose ends, and that includes your keys.

Handing In Keys

In order to qualify to get your deposit back you will need to turn in all of your keys. In addition to the front door make sure to also turn in keys to your mailbox and other secured areas that you had a key to access.

Wait Until the Lease is Up

Make sure you are completely moved out before returning your keys to the property manager or landlord. Moving can be chaotic and there is a lot going on. You do not want to forget something only to realize you no longer have a key to get inside and pick up what you forgot.
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