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Guest Post: Should Property Owners Replace or Rekey Old Locks?

Security is always on the minds of property managers. They don’t want their tenants to be burglarized, and they also want to protect their investment. One of the best ways to achieve

both of those goals is with a good set of locks. But what is the best way to secure a lock that someone had the key to for months or years? Anyone with extended access to a key could have had it duplicated. "Do Not Duplicate" stamps are not enough to deter this type of behavior. So do you have to replace all of the locks? It depends, but it is certainly not your only option. Instead of replacing the existing locks, you may be able to rekey them.

What is Rekeying?

Most door locks can be rekeyed. This process is cheaper than purchasing new lock hardware. Essentially what the rekeying process is doing is replacing the small internal parts of the lock

that make it work with a specific key. Almost all standard household locks use a basic pin tumbler system. With these locks, a key is inserted into the lock, and this will elevate pins within the plug (the rotating cylinder with the keyway in it). The length of each pin will correspond to a groove on the key so that it can be lifted up to a particular height. When these pins are removed and replaced with different size pins, the old key will no longer work. You will need a new key, which can be made from scratch or exist already.

When to Rekey

One of the most common instances where a property manager will choose to rekey their locks is

when a tenant moves out. If this is happening frequently, it may make very little sense to keep

investing in a brand new lock, especially if those locks are high-security. This task can be

completed simply by calling a residential locksmith. They will have all of the necessary tools and

training to rekey your lock or locks. You may also decide to do this yourself, and invest in a

rekey set at your local hardware store. If you have no training, this can be quite dangerous for

your lock, and it will limit your rekeying options.

When rekeying an existing lock it can be made to fit any key of the same brand or cylinder type.

That means that every lock in the house can be keyed alike if they are the same brand. This

may be important for a property owner who would like to cut down on the number of keys they

use. Each property can have every lock keyed alike. I would not recommend using the same

key for multiple properties. Of course, it is better to have a diversity of lock types on a single

property, but it is not always feasible.

When to Replace

The biggest sign that you need to replace your lock is when it is broken. It is true that

sometimes a lock’s pins can simply wear down, and just those parts can be replaced, but more

often than not it is better simply replace all of the hardware. Locks need to function. In order to

protect residents they need to lock, and in emergencies, they need to open. If the pins are worn

down in the lock, chances are that bigger problems are on the horizon. In any case, it is best to

replace the lock altogether.

Another reason to change your locks is after the residence has suffered a burglary. I would also

recommend replacing the locks and switching to a brand that uses a different key type. Any type

of extreme criminal activity should be met with a significant upgrade to the building's locks. In

cases of forced entry, it will be shown that the lock does not offer the proper security. Even in

the rare instance that the lock still works after being overcome, it should be replaced. Chances

are that it is damaged, so it is better to be on the safe side. Investing in higher security will also

raise your property value and is a great incentive to make renters aware of.


Now you understand the difference between rekeying and replacing a lock, and the instances

where one might be used more effectively over the other. You can always pay more money to

replace the entire lock, but be sure that you do in extreme circumstances. Simple events, such

as an average tenant moving out, can be solved with rekeying. Any burglaries or severely

malfunctioning locks are red flags for replacement. Be safe and spend smart!

Author Bio

Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at

the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They

offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.

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