Changing the locks – A little thought of necessity when moving home
So you’ve finally managed it. All the stress of selling your old home and then finding and buying your new home, buyers, sellers, solicitors, conveyancers, estate agents and removal companies all dealt with – time to relax. Not quite. It is reported that nearly 60% of people either forget or don’t bother to change the locks on their new home. It seems that we rely on the fact the previous owners have collected in all the available keys they have ever had for the property and handed them to the Estate Agent to pass onto you when you have finally completed. We have no doubt that in the vast majority of cases the previous owners are upstanding people and believe they have done just that but have they got all of them from the spare they gave the neighbours to family and friends and cleaners and sub-contractors who had a copy to let themselves in. Security has to be your first concern once you are settled into your new home.
There are 2 methods of dealing with this situation
- Change the locks on all accessible doors – this is the slightly more expensive and invasive option but it does ensure that you will have locks that are not only inaccessible to previous key holders but also make sure they are compliant with home insurers requirements
- Rekey the locks on all accessible doors – If you are happy with the locks and the locksmith advises this is possible you can have the tumblers rekeyed and new keys issued making them safe
There is one other really important fact to take into consideration. Whilst every insurance company will have different policies and views if you are burgled and there are no signs of forced entry you may find your home insurers will reject the claim. When we inquired about this with Lucy Rumming MD of Willows Insurance Services (023 9206 5629) email@example.com she advised:-
“The answer I have is it varies from insurer to insurer, but often insurance will only pay out on theft is there is a forced entry and if someone has a key to your house then there is no forced entry, homeowners have a duty to take reasonable precautions to secure their homes, but I can’t be certain whether changing the locks would be reasonable or not, there is an extract from the Association of British insurers below. I think if a previous owner did break into a property them the insurer may argue it and the claimant may have to appeal and then may get their claim settled or partially settled. But I guess the best advice would be to avoid the risk of a non-payout or difficult payout and if you aren’t sure all the keys were returned then to change the locks.”
And the extract from The Association Of British Insurers states
“Check your policy
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), in the event that money is stolen there must be signs of forced entry. So as a homeowner, you might not be covered if a key is used to enter your home.
Maybe you or someone else at home lost a key and it was traced back to your property. Or you may have given a key to a neighbour, friend, or ex-partner.
The ABI say that policies usually exclude theft by members of the family, and neighbours or ex-partners could be excluded also.
A number of insurers also say a break-in or burglary of this type would be treated as an act of deception, rather than theft. And as such, may not be covered under a home insurance policy.
Keys and contract
If you’re unlucky enough to be burgled by someone using a key, insurers may look at the case ‘favourably’ – but this is never guaranteed.
But as long as you’ve taken the necessary steps to fully secure your home, you’ve fulfilled your duty of care.
Whether you’re covered or not will depend on your insurer. But they should take into account the circumstances that led to someone getting their hands on the key to your property.
So the overall message here is to check your policy small print. But it’s definitely worth bearing this mind when you dish out the spare keys.”
So whilst there is not a definitive answer is it really worth the risk for the sake of new locks to ensure the security of your new home