What To Do When Tenant Does Not Return Keys?

As a landlord, dealing with a tenant who fails to return keys can be both frustrating and concerning. Knowing the right steps to take in such situations is crucial for maintaining property security and resolving the issue effectively.

Steps to Take When a Tenant Does Not Return Keys

Here are the steps you can take when facing such a situation:

  1. Contact the Tenant: Reach out to the tenant and remind them to return the keys.
  2. Offer a Deadline: Give the tenant a reasonable deadline to return the keys.
  3. Consider Rekeying the Property: To maintain security, consider rekeying the property.
  4. Document Everything: Keep records of all communication and actions taken regarding the missing keys.
  5. Charge for Key Replacement: If the keys are not returned, you may choose to charge the tenant for key replacement.
  6. Consult Legal Advice: If necessary, seek legal advice to understand your rights as a landlord in such situations.

Importance of Promptly Returning Keys

Returning keys promptly is crucial for both tenants and landlords.

Retrieving security depositEnsuring property security
Avoiding additional chargesPreventing unauthorized access

Legal Implications

Not returning keys can have legal implications for both the tenant and the landlord.

  • Tenant: Could face charges for key replacement and other penalties.
  • Landlord: May have the right to claim compensation for any damages caused.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Handle A Tenant Who Doesn’t Return The Keys?

To handle a tenant who doesn’t return the keys, start by following these steps:
1. Communicate with the tenant: Reach out to the tenant to discuss the issue and remind them of their responsibility to return the keys. 2. Issue a written notice: If the tenant still doesn’t return the keys, send them a written notice requesting their immediate return. 3. Assess the situation: If the tenant continues to withhold the keys, evaluate the extent of the issue. Determine if there are any potential damages or outstanding rent owed. 4. Contact a lawyer: If necessary, consult with a lawyer to understand your legal rights and options for recourse. 5. Change the locks: If the tenant refuses to return the keys, consider changing the locks to maintain the security of the property. 6. Early lease termination: In some cases, you may need to consider terminating the lease early due to the tenant’s non-compliance.

Can I Charge The Tenant For Not Returning The Keys?

Yes, as a landlord, you can charge the tenant for not returning the keys. However, there are certain guidelines you should follow:
1. Review the lease agreement: Check the lease agreement to see if there are any clauses discussing key return fees. 2. Communicate the charge: Inform the tenant in writing about the specific fee for not returning the keys and provide an explanation. 3. Document the costs: Keep a record of any expenses incurred due to the tenant’s failure to return the keys, such as locksmith charges. 4. Deduct from the security deposit: If the tenant has a security deposit, you can deduct the applicable fee from it, following the proper legal procedures.

What Legal Actions Can I Take If A Tenant Doesn’t Return The Keys?

If a tenant refuses to return the keys, you may consider the following legal actions:
1. Eviction procedure: Begin the eviction process if the tenant’s failure to return the keys is part of a larger pattern of non-compliance. 2. Small claims court: File a lawsuit in small claims court to seek the return of the keys and any associated damages. 3. Consult an attorney: Seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in landlord-tenant disputes to explore your options and plan your course of action.

What Legal Actions Can I Take If A Tenant Doesn’t Return The Keys?

Yes, you can change the locks if a tenant doesn’t return the keys, but it’s important to adhere to legal requirements:
1. Check local laws: Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding changing locks without the tenant’s consent. 2. Provide notice: Notify the tenant in writing about your intention to change the locks if they fail to return the keys within a specified period. 3. Document the process: Keep records of all your communication with the tenant, including notices, proof of attempts to obtain the keys, and locksmith invoices. 4. Store tenant’s belongings: Safely store the tenant’s belongings during the lock change process, adhering to legal guidelines and notifying the tenant.


When a tenant fails to return keys, landlords must take proactive steps to address the issue. Effective communication, setting deadlines, considering rekeying, documenting actions, seeking legal advice if necessary, and charging for key replacement are essential measures. Promptly returning keys benefits both parties, while legal implications highlight the importance of resolving the issue efficiently and protecting property security.

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