Rental properties and keys
When it comes to property management, keys really are a key aspect of managing a tenancy.
In this article, we unlock the legal requirements and best practice methods property managers should adhere to when it comes to managing properties and keys.
1.KEEPING KEYS SAFE
The landlord expects that the property you manage on their behalf is secure and safe, as do the tenants who live there.
So be cautious when securing keys. You need to ensure the keys stored in your office are locked away and there is no record of property addresses attached to the keys – in case they are misplaced or lost.
2. PROVIDING KEYS TO THE TENANT
The property manager/landlord must give at least one of the tenants a key for every lock that is part of the premises. This includes sheds, gates and letterboxes. If there is more than one tenant named on the tenancy agreement, the property manager/landlord must supply each of the named tenants on the tenancy agreement with a key for each lock that is required to access the premises.
3. GIVING TENANT ACCESS IF LOCKED OUT
If a tenant has locked themselves out, be mindful of who is collecting the office set of keys. You should have procedures in place to confirm identity and confirmation from all tenants of who you are providing access to. You often don’t know if there has been a domestic violence situation or a break down in the household.
4. CHANGING LOCKS
There is no legislation requiring that locks need to be changed between tenancies. However, it would be a safe precaution on behalf of landlords, as there is no real tracking method to identify if tenants have had general keys cut during their tenancy.
Unless changed in an emergency or under an order of a tribunal, a tenant must seek a lessor’s consent to change the locks. If a landlord is allowing a tenant to change the locks, it is recommended that the parties agree that the locks are changed to that of a similar quality to what is currently installed. A set of keys must be provided to the landlord or agent unless a tribunal orders that a key not be given.
5. ENDING A TENANCY
Property managers must end tenancies in accordance with Section 277 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act). Only when possession has been given back to the lessor/agent can locks be changed, not beforehand.
6. OWNER ACCESS
Many landlords live interstate and most correspondence is handled over the phone or via email. Property managers often don’t get to put a face to a name. So, what do you do when an owner decides they would like to collect keys to inspect or work on the property between tenancies?
It is essential that you verify the owner’s identity and ensure that, if owned by multiple parties, that all parties agree to the handing of keys to one particular party. The last thing you want to do is hand the keys to someone who is not an authorised party and become stuck in the middle of an ownership dispute or break down that you were not previously aware of.
7. TRADIES AND ACCESS
When something in a tenancy needs to be rectified or fixed, property managers often provide a work order with tenant contact details to tradespeople with the aim of the tradesperson and tenant negotiating access together.
However, you need to consider what processes you have in place to verify communication if there is no request to issue a Form 9 entry notice.
Without an entry notice, there must be consent from the tenant for a tradesperson to access the home. While there’s an assumption the tradespeople have achieved this consent, what would you do if a tenant stated that they never gave approval and a tradesperson accessed the home?
In this instance, it is recommended that once the tradesperson contacts your office to arrange collection of keys, communication is quickly sought from the tenant to verify the arrangement or have the tradesperson provide evidence of approval in the way of email or text.
While keys can be a property manager’s worst nightmare, with good systems and best practice procedures in place, you can eliminate most of your frustrations.
 Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009, Regulation 29.