Copy of keys

Hi everyone - this is a pretty silly question - but believe it or not, my tenants are starting to push the issues - for no good reason.

WHen they moved in they got a copy of they keys. They requested another as they lost one. I send the another, which they say is not working. I assumed that they can just get the key buffed out to fit, however they are now demanding that I get them another set. What is the tenant rights here - or more to the point, can i tell them go do it themselves - at their cost…?

My rental is in Bo, MA


just my .02 … They LOST one… they can go make a copy of the one they still have at their expense and time! If the one you originally gave them didn’t work I would get a better copy made, but since they were given 2 keys that worked and then lost one, they should be responisble for replacing it! Does your lease say anything about keys?
I am learning very quickly to cover even the dumbest things in the lease. We charge 25.00 if they don’t return keys or if we have to change locks ect… We also have a policy that if they find themselves locked out of the house for any reason they can call us during specified hours and we can unlock the door for them if we are available… if we are not available or after hours they can call a locksmith at their expense!


I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill. Tenants occassionally lose their key. If they already have a key and just need a second for another family member, I’d tell them to go get a copy made (at their expense). If they lost their only key for a particular door, then I would make a copy for them and take it to them. If they don’t have a key, even if it’s their fault, they will probably sue you if someone breaks in (because they couldn’t lock their door). For $1, I’d just get them a key.


If you’re stingy Walmart is about the cheapest around for key copies, cost me $0.94 I think or something like that around here. HD charges about $2-3. Just think of all the money I just saved you. I’ll PM my mailing address so you can send my cut.

What does your lease say?

If it doesn’t say anything, why not?


Hi everyone - thanks for the replies - it does look like a pretty stingy move - however, i am looking to know where I stand in terms of landlord obligation on this, Not the cost of a set of keys. They are starting to use the fact that i did not get them another set, after i discovered they have a dog in the house. ( Lease broken) and asked them to removed it.

There is nothing in my contract with them about keys - however there is about the dog!!


Your rental is in Bo, MA? You mean Boston?

As a landlord in this area for several years, I’m not aware of any law that requires you to give them a key free of charge. Actually there’s no requirement that the landlord has to own a set of keys to the unit.

Basically you should feel free to charge them for another set of keys. Just explain that it takes time to make it, you have to drive around etc., which is why a lost key will cost them $25 or whatever and maybe next time they won’t lose one.

In terms of leasing the apartment, rules here are that you can only accept up to a 3 months worth of rent being the first last and security plus you can also charge for changing the door locks.

I believe the standard form that the Greater Boston Real Estate Board has available for leases doesn’t really mention a lost key fee, but it does have a line in there as a separate charge when moving in. You may also want to consider picking up a legal book about landlording that they just revised. I got mine several years ago and I guess the next time I’m in the area, I should pick up the latest edition.


As a landlord, I try to provide tenants with “good service” with good rents. My mother in law on the other had talks in terms of her “minimum legal obligatations”.

For instance, when her tenants complain about being cold, she replies “the law says I only have to give you 66 degrees”. When tenants compain to me, I apologize, raise the heat a bit, and call back to ask if they’re comfortable.

What happened to her was when her tenant got burglarized, they got after her right away for negligience. I guess two people can play the same game.

Lost keys??

I got a young tenant coming back late at night from a party, 1:00AM, lost his keys locked himself out, and called us. We always had an extra set around, so we went by and gave him a set.

Losing keys are bad enough, without the landlord giving you a hard time to boot. I would turn a bad experience for the tenant to one of a “good one with his landlord”, because in life, you’ll never know if you need a big favor from him some day.

When I first began looking at properties I was walking through a property and the tenant asked the landlord that was taking us through the property if he could change the locks. He said “No”. She said it was because her ex-boyfriend stole the keys and said he was going to break into her place and steal her stuff. She then said she’d pay for the locks but didn’t know how to change them. He still said “No, get the keys back I’m not changing them”. We then went to a different property he owned. It had one window that was broken with a piece missing, then another window where the glass was completely gone (it was February). I desided that day that I would never be a slumlord.

Don’t be a slumlord. Just give the tenant a copy.

That’s not being a slumlord, that’s just handing out an open invitation to a lawsuit and how to become an ex-landlord.

In that situation, even if you don’t know how to change the locks, you could call a locksmith have them do it and hand the tenant the bill or split it or however you want to do it, but get it done.

Just last month I had the same situation, boyfriend and girlfriend had a fight and broke one of my windows. He wanted to leave right away because he feared for his safety for some reason, but I got the window replaced quickly and changed the lock for him. The window cost me $60 to fix and the lock was another $10. As it took me 3 trips, I just charged him $100 for both. Figured that I would break even on my time and gas.

As for owners doing the showing, I love it when that happens, you hear them say all sorts of things that they shouldn’t be saying. In those cases, I just let them talk and dig a bigger hole for themselves. The best is when they claim it’s a “safe” neighborhood. Now they just made a representation that the neighborhood is safe so the next time anything happens, they could be sued for that. I believe several jury awards have been made based on those claims.

I got wise to this tricky question.

One applicant kept pressing me on it, and I replied all my prior tenants tell me how safe they feel, but it might be better if she took 30 minutes to drive around, and then walk a few blocks, get the feel of the area, and come back to see me.

Well, I didn’t expect her to come back, and she did, complaining that she saw a few of THOSE (shaking her head for emphasis) people walking around, and how dare I claim the area was safe.

I replied that I think I know who THOSE people are, but it’s a free country, and anyone can walk anywhere, adding that she might have a better shot at avoiding THOSE people by moving to New Hamphire or Montana.

She gave me a dirty look and left.

This had pretty much been my standard response, and I don’t think anyone can accuse me of misrepresentation in any manner shape or form.

Any neighborhood in NYC has shady characters, this just goes with the territory. Montana or New Hampshire would definitely be more her speed, good call.

It’s also a tricky question because you could be violating fair housing laws depending on what you say. In this state it’s a 10k fine if you violate the law the first time and landlords and owners fall under the law.

The safe standard response is that you don’t keep current statistics on crime and if safety is a concern for you, I would check with the local police department for the current statistics.

Shady characters can be anyway. Just watch the news, whenever something happens, they always interview the neighbors and half the time they say that the guy always seemed pretty nice and they’re surprised this happened. Every once in a while you get a response that says the guy was shady and it was only a matter of time.