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LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  10+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
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I am renting an apartment. Can I legally change the front

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I am renting an apartment. Can I legally change the front door lock??

Do I absolutely have to furnish the office a key to my apartment??
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.


Good morning. I certainly understand the situation and your concern as a tenant, moving into a new rental property. A landlord is required to change or rekey locks within seven days of a new tenant moving in. This is to prevent an old tenant from coming back and re-entering the property or in the event that the old tenant made a copy of and gave the key to a third party. If the landlord fails to install a required security device or fails to rekey a lock after the tenant turnover date and the tenant does not owe the landlord any money, the tenant may, without written request:

Install or rekey the security device and deduct the cost of material, labor, taxes and extra keys from the tenant’s next rent payment; and
File suit against the landlord for compliance and obtain a judgment for:
A court order directing the landlord to comply (available only in county and district courts);
Actual damages;
Court costs; and
Attorney’s fees (except in suits for recovery of property damages, personal injuries, or wrongful death).

If a tenant serves a landlord with a written request to install or rekey a security device, the landlord has three days to comply. However, if the lease contains a provision that is underlined or in bold print and notifies the tenant of the rights described thus far, the landlord has seven days to comply. If the landlord does not comply with the tenant’s written request and the tenant does not owe the landlord any money, the tenant may:

Unilaterally terminate the lease without court proceedings; and
File suit against the landlord for compliance and obtain a judgment for:
A court order directing the landlord to comply (available only in county and district courts);
Actual damages;
Punitive damages (if actual damages suffered);
Civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500;
Court costs; and
Attorney’s fees (except when the suit seeks damages for property, personal injuries, or wrongful death).


In a situation like this, it is best to provide the written notice, placing the management/landlord on notice. If the locks are changed, you do have to provide them with a copy of the key, as they need to be able to have entry in case of an emergency or if they need access. You can not legally prevent and block them from entering, if needed, so they would need to be furnished a copy. I have provided the statues below for your review as well.

http://law.onecle.com/texas/property/chapter92.html

§ 92.156. REKEYING OR CHANGE OF SECURITY DEVICES. (a) A
security device operated by a key, card, or combination shall be
rekeyed by the landlord at the landlord's expense not later than the
seventh day after each tenant turnover date.
(b) A landlord shall perform additional rekeying or change a
security device at the tenant's expense if requested by the tenant.
A tenant may make an unlimited number of requests under this
subsection.
(c) The expense of rekeying security devices for purposes of
the use or change of the landlord's master key must be paid by the
landlord.
(d) This section does not apply to locks on closet doors or
other interior doors.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions or need any clarification on something which I stated above, prior to rating me. Also, please remember to rate my service with 3, 4, or 5 faces/stars, before exiting the site, so I can receive credit for my help. I hope you found it to be Excellent! Only rate my answer when you are 100% satisfied. If you feel the need to click either of the two faces/stars on the left, please STOP and reply to me via the "REPLY TO EXPERT or CONTINUE CONVERSATION "button. I want to make sure your experience with the site was as pleasurable as possible and that you are satisfied with the help I provided.
I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any other questions or needed me to clarify something. I am here to help, so please let me know. Thanks!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I tell the office: In case of an emergency, break out a window to enter my apartment and I will pay for the window. I was told before that this would work if I do not want them to have a key.

Is this true?

No, I do not believe it would be. The reason I say that is because there may be times when they need to enter the property for work/maintenance so it would be unreasonable to break a window out and damage the property to do so. You certainly can suggest it to them or offer an alternatives but they do have a legal right to a key, to gain entry, if needed.
LegalKnowledge and 5 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I had understood that this issue had been taken all the way to the Supreme Court, and that they had ruled on the side of the renter. Maybe I got some bad information.

I will not be needing your services any more.

Thank you.