|Changing locks should be standard procedure for new homeowners before taking up residence.
Moving into a new house is uber-exciting! It’s a new beginning, in a new neighborhood and there’s so much on your mind and so much to do: getting to know the new neighbors, your mortgage payments, unpacking, settling in, making the house more your style, possible renovations. Your new house, is your biggest investment. Maybe, changing your locks isn’t on your mind, however; if the new house was once occupied by someone else, you really ought to change the locks before settling in for the first night at your new place.
Though the moment when your realtor hands you keys to your very own house is downright thrilling, maybe even sentimental, the best thing you can do with those keys is ditch them! Have your locks changed and get a brand new set of keys for your new house. It’s your safety and security in the balance, after all. “If the previous owner never had the locks changed, there may be copies of the key in the hands of strangers who could easily break into your house or possibly even attempt entry unaware that there is now a new house owner.”, according to Realty Times.
Because the previous owner most likely made at least one copy or handed a spare key to people they trusted but whom you don’t know, you should definitely change your locks. There may be several spare keys in the hands of neighbors, family members, friends, or service workers, or contractors, not to mention keys possibly hidden near your new house. The idea of a stranger having access to your home is unnerving, to say the least.
Consider this, late last month, a Alameda, California woman got the shock of her life, to find squatters living inside her house, after she had been away for 3 days. The squatters had the audacity to change her locks (we happen to verify whether someone has the right to do this, apparently the locksmith that changed her locks did not!). The squatters quite possibly had access to the house because she failed to change her locks or re-key her locks, or because she had hidden a key near her home (hey, thugs are clever and know where to look! So, DO NOT hide keys!)
In making sure that you, your loved ones and your property are safe, you have 2 options.
Change your locks
Changing your locks is recommended if the existing locks show wear or you want to upgrade to stronger and more efficient locks. Changing locks is also a must if you know the home has had an attempted break-in or if local break-ins have been occurring. Completely changing locks in exchange for new hardware and keys is the most expensive way to go, and to get it done right it’s best to call a professional who knows what they are doing and who can recommend the best locks for your home.
Re-key your locks
If your locks are in great condition, a less expensive option is to have the locks re-keyed. When you re-key a lock, you change out the lock’s inner workings only, leaving the outer hardware intact. A re-key will require a new set of keys for you to be able to open the lock leaving the old key useless.
Changing or re-keying your locks is the most sensible thing to do before you stay the first night or begin moving in your valuables. Your peace of mind is worth the small cost and effort that goes into changing or re-keying your locks.
Not yet sold on the importance of changing locks on a new house? Here are some key considerations to make:
· Do you know how many previous occupants your home has had?
· Has the property ever been rented?
· When were the locks last changed?
· Has anyone ever given a set of keys to a tradesman?
· Has the property ever been looked after by a third party?
· Has every set of keys to the property been collected from all of the above?
It’s unlikely you’ll know the answer to all of the above. Is it really worth taking a gamble on this? All it takes is one key unaccounted for.