Rekey for tenant safety
Each state will exhibit different property code requirements for rekeying rentals. This is partially due to the demographics and of course, population needs of the individual landlords and tenants. Some requirements are added in differing locations based upon factors such as crime rate, the overall density of population, and other factors that only each state and location may deem necessary. With rental properties, there is no “one size fits all” type of state codes for rekeying. It is just not possible.
State Property Code in Texas has strict requirements and restrictions for rekeying rentals.
Texas seems focused on stringent rekeying of properties, with security requirements being the focus there. Under Section 92.156 of Texas State Property Code, rekeying of a rental property or any change of security device entry must encompass certain rules. A property must be rekeyed or experience a change of security devices with each subsequent tenant. A tenant may request additional rekeying or change of security devices an unlimited number of times, but this will be done at the tenant’s expense. Any routine expense occurred in the master device or master rekeying during change of tenancy is incurred by the landlord. Any breach of the landlord/tenant agreement that results in a rekeying or change of security devices, such as abandonment of the property by a tenant, will make the rekeying or change of security device by the landlord an expense that can be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit. This mandate however should be in bold print somewhere in the lease. Any of the above mandates must also follow subsection “e” of the Texas State Property Code, Section 92.156. This section specifically spells out the rights of each tenant and/or landlord in the case of vacating a property presumptuously.
Any property owner should always check each specific state code for rental property rekeying.
In Florida, for example, the requirements are much less strict and easier for any property owner to understand and follow regarding rekeying. Rekeying in Florida is more generally focused on the issue of “habitability” which in general ensures safety and security of any property. Habitability by definition means that a property is safe, secure and in good enough condition to be habitable. Rekeying is generally spelled out in most state codes by focusing on a lease section which states the procedures. This does seem to include Florida. In fact, not much mention seems to be made of rekeying in Florida State Codes. Florida State Rental Code especially Florida Statute, Part II, Section 83, is a good guide on leases and habitability, which would seem to include rekeying since safety and security is part and parcel of habitability and most states will generally focus on habitability.
In Texas, the state codes seem more focused on rekeying itself with its many guidelines.
Texas State code is very specific about the handling of all keys, the security measures that are needed to secure keys, the times when a property needs to be rekeyed, and also the responsibilities for the keys, and the costs of rekeying whether landlord or tenant. Keeping track of all keys and the procedures for rekeying is a focus in Texas State Property Rental Code. The property code laws in Texas regarding rekeying are even very specific even as to timeframes for rekeying. In fact, in Texas Property Code, Section 92.156 there exists a specific seven-day period in which a property needs to be rekeyed upon vacancy. Privacy and security of a tenant in Texas is a huge consideration and therefore the State Code there does require a limit on the number of keys to be issued for each unit. In Texas, a landlord is advised to retain a property manager to avoid liability when rekeying or keeping charge of any existing keys. Shina Coleman with Lone Star Evictions says, “If the home has been on the market and realtors have had access to it, it’s best to rekey a home after you remove the lockbox for a new tenant or within 7 days after the new tenant moves in. This eliminates a lot of safety concerns and liability from the landlord.” Rekeying a property by a landlord himself or the property manager also carries liability in Texas and recommendations are made to have a professional locksmith undertake all rekeying of properties when needed.
Above all, when choosing which rental property to purchase, and of course, where to purchase it, knowledge of the varying state code laws within each state is necessary and should be researched.