Are Landlords Required to Change Locks Between Tenants?

Do I have to re-key locks after my tenants move out? San Antonio property managers hear this question often from rental property investment beginners.

The short answer: “Yes!” In Texas, landlords must change or re-key locks between tenants. In fact, the Texas Property Code states that “a security device operated by a key, card, or combination shall be re-keyed by the landlord at the landlord's expense not later than the seventh day after each tenant turnover date”.

Read on for more reasons why re-keying the locks makes good business sense. We also look into different locks that could make your tenant move-out checklist a little easier!

3 Good Reasons to Change the Locks

Aside from the legal reasons, the best property management San Antonio offers can tell you that there are several other benefits to changing the locks.

  1. Prevent re-entry from tenants who have moved out at the end of their lease.
  2. Protect new tenants by ensuring they have a fresh set of keys and locks for their new rental home.
  3. Avoid incurring landlord liabilities from an inability to keep track of different keys between subsequent tenants.

Requiring tenants to have renter’s insurance is another critical way of protecting landlords from unnecessary financial liability.

When is the Right Time to Change Locks?

Locks on the exterior doors of your rental property are essential for protecting your tenants from unwanted visits. Secure locks in good condition keep residents and their belongings safe.

However, residential property managers know that re-keying locks can be a costly exercise, especially if you have high tenant turnover. Is it really necessary to do it each and every time? Even if our state law didn't require it, we advise that it's a good idea to change the locks after each tenant. If the locks weren’t changed before they moved in, new tenants may come after you for stolen goods, property damage, and so on.


Here are a few more instances when it might be necessary to change the locks on your San Antonio rental property.

  • If the tumblers stop turning or the lock stops working for a different reason.
  • If you decide to upgrade the locks to a more modern system. This has the added benefit of improving the aesthetics of the property’s front door and helping your tenant feel safer.
  • Tenants may ask you to change the locks if a roommate moves out. If they have given the key to a friend or a family member who they no longer want to access the rental unit, it's smart to re-key locks at that time. In this situation, the tenant is liable for the cost of re-keying the locks.
  • You may need to replace a lock damaged by the tenants or their guests. The renter is responsible for the cost in this case.

The bottom line is that even though it can feel like a hassle and unnecessary expense, re-keying locks when needed is one of the best ways to avoid liabilities when operating rental properties.

Different Lock Solutions for Landlords

So, which is better: changing locks vs re-keying? Depending on your security budget and the level of efficiency you would like, there are different options at different price points.

1. A New Knob and Deadbolt Set

This option entails removing the entire lock mechanism and replacing it with a new one. You usually only do this if the lock is very worn or if there is something faulty with the mechanism. It is a pricey option if you do it with every tenant change.

If you have a bit of DIY experience and know how to change a door lock, this is something that you could do yourself. However, it is probably best to entrust the task to a locksmith.

2. Re-Key the Existing Locks

A more cost-effective alternative to changing the locks completely is to re-key the locks.

How do you re-key a lock? Remove the lock from the door. Open the lock to reveal the pins inside. Exchange the pins for new ones to reconfigure the lock for a different key.

While this is a more affordable method, it likely still requires a locksmith’s services. For a rental property with several doors, this can be a time-consuming endeavor. In addition, you must take great care in keeping track of which keys match specific doors.

3. Install Electronic Locks

Avoid the hassle of changing the hardware of locks and keeping track of different keys. Install electronic locks instead!

While the idea of using a number pad and code to enter a property might seem a bit futuristic, it certainly is convenient. Instead of replacing locks with every tenant changeover, you can simply recalibrate the entry code. The downside of this option is the costly installation. However, you will save money in the long run as you won’t have to call out a locksmith whenever you must change the locks between renters.

4. Use Blue-Tooth Enabled Smart Locks

Smart locks have Wi-Fi capabilities that enable remote unlocking by an app on your smartphone or another device. These computerized locks are incredibly convenient.

Property owners and tenants can unlock the doors remotely. This means that there are no concerns about lost keys.


In addition, maintenance staff can gain access to the premises without the tenants or landlord being present. As a property owner, you no longer have the expense of calling out a locksmith every time the locks need to be re-keyed. A downside to this technology is that password crackers and hackers may be able to hack access codes and gain entry.

Re-Key the Simple Way With the Best Property Management San Antonio Offers

For business-savvy San Antonio landlords, changing the locks between tenants is a worthwhile investment. New locks make your life easier, your tenants feel more secure, and your property becomes more valuable. No matter which type of lock you prefer, it is essential to have an efficient system to track keys or entry codes for the different properties in your portfolio.

Working with a property manager means you never have to worry about retrieving keys from exiting tenants and re-keying locks! We make it part of our tenant move-out checklist to change the locks after tenants move out. We also have a system to track keys or codes for tenants and owners. Reach out to MHN Properties to simplify the tenant turnover process!


We've used MHN for property management services for 2 of our rental properties and couldn't be happier! From the moment of listing, they kick into gear and market the property aggressively resulting in record timing on placement. During the tenant's stay MHN's team handles tenant issues in a manner that reflects their high level of professionalism.

We have the utmost confidence in their team and will continue to use their services in the future!

David Tapia