Apartment lock out policy (what is required of a landlord?)

We’ve all been locked out at some point but some people seem to fall victim more than others. An apartment lock out policy can save headaches for a landlord with a forgetful tenant.
Here’s what you need to know if you have a tenant that is calling too frequently because they’re locked out.
Our friends over at Avvo touch on this in their webinar with Zillow addressing landlord responsibilities concerning lockout service.

 
The audio file above addresses this question as Avvo’s chief legal officer, Josh King, weighs in with his thoughts.
Below you can read the transcript of the conversation:
Legal Disclaimer: The materials and information presented here were provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Zillow Group does not make any guarantees as to the sufficiency of the information included or its compliance with applicable laws. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The opinions expressed in the audio and from the webinar are the opinions of Avvo and may not reflect the opinions of Zillow Group.
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Transcription of the audio file above

 
Interviewer: As a landlord, am I obligated to provide lockout service at all hours?
Josh: I would certainly hope not. There’s not gonna be any requirement that you did that unless you put it into your lease, which I can’t imagine any rational landlord would do. I mean you’re obligated to give your tenants keys, or at least a key, but really, they have to have a certain amount of tenant responsibility, themself.
Now that said, I mean there’s certainly, you’re going to have irresponsible tenants. You’re gonna have people who lose their keys. And I think this is one of those things where, you’re never going to get sued over something like this, but as a landlord, it’s a great opportunity for communication where maybe you can set something up where they have multiple sets of keys. Maybe you even have a way where they have a lock box.
You may find that if it’s becoming a problem, it’s becoming increasing affordable to put in place key coded locks so they don’t have to carry around a physical key. Or if it’s a persistent problem, you may even consider entering into a business arrangement with a local locksmith who can provide that 24-hour access so they have a phone number they can call. And it’s obviously going to cost them to have that person come out and let them in, but you would have that arrangement so that they wouldn’t have to run through any of the additional verification procedures in order to get into the apartment.
But at the end of the day, you’re not obligated to be on a 24-hour pager just because you’ve chosen to be a landlord.

green-lime

Landlord Apartment Lock Out Policy

Josh touched on key coded locks in his answer and I think this is worth mentioning again.
There are many ways to deal with tenant issues, usually good communication and fair but firm enforcement of rules are a great starting point.
In this instance, I think updating your locks is the easiest answer.
Here’s a touchpad* you can purchase and install for $65.

I’m not a fan of being an enabler but in this instance, I think the best course of action is to update the locks.
I’d also make sure that tenant knows to keep their keys on them in case the battery dies on the keypad. It may stop a future late-night call and also let your tenant know that you’re responding to the issues they’re having as a tenant.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below.

*Lock link is an Amazon Affiliate Link