New homeowners and renters are overlooking a basic security measure that could prevent them being robbed within weeks of moving in.
New homeowners and renters are overlooking a basic security measure that could prevent them being robbed within weeks of moving in.

New homeowners’ dumb oversight

New homeowners and renters are leaving themselves open to being robbed within weeks of moving in because of a simple security oversight, industry leaders say.

More often than not, owners neglect to change, or re-key, door locks because they're preoccupied with what needs to be arranged, or attended to, when taking charge of a residence.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said no new owner, or even renter, knows how many sets of keys to their property are in circulation.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella says changing door locks should alone create peace of mind for homeowners. Picture: Supplied
Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella says changing door locks should alone create peace of mind for homeowners. Picture: Supplied

Particularly, if the new abode has been a rental property with numerous tenants over the years.

"Re-keying locks should be part of any moving checklist," Ms Mercorella said.

"When moving into a New Residence, particularly one you have purchased, a change of locks is always recommended, to provide peace of mind that the only keys in circulation are those you choose to have cut.

"It's important to remember, it's not just your belongings you're keeping safe, you're providing security for yourself and your family too."

The warning to be vigilant comes as Queensland Police crime statistics show 1870 homes per month have been entered illegally in the first 11 months this year.

Quensland police crime statistics show more than 1800 homes per month have entered illegally in the first 11 months of 2020. Picture: Supplied
Quensland police crime statistics show more than 1800 homes per month have entered illegally in the first 11 months of 2020. Picture: Supplied

In total, 20,641 crime reports were logged with police from January to November under 'unlawful entry with intent' which includes felons who have entered through an unlocked door while the occupants have been home.

Ms Mercorella said that changing, or re-keying, locks for renters was not as straightforward as it was for homeowners.

A landlord needs to approve any change of locks with the tenant to foot the bill although the inconvenience and cost was a small price to pay for guaranteeing your security, she said.

"In the case of rentals, tenants are not permitted to change any locks unless permission is explicitly granted from the landlord and a set of new keys is issued to the property manager and, or, landlord," she said.

"In most cases, should a tenant request a change of locks, they will need to cover the cost unless other arrangements have been made."

Sam Patterson, 42, with daughter Lady, 6, watch on as Greg Newton of H.A. Reed Locksmiths attends to their locks. Photographer: Liam Kidston
Sam Patterson, 42, with daughter Lady, 6, watch on as Greg Newton of H.A. Reed Locksmiths attends to their locks. Photographer: Liam Kidston

Businessman Sam Patterson said they changed their door locks after they recently renovated.

However, one of the locks proved to be faulty.

"We did change all the locks but one proved troublesome so we had to get a locksmith out to fix it," Mr Patterson said.

Anyone concerned about their home security can request a police safety audit at no charge, District Crime Prevention Co-ordinator Shona Fahrenhorst said.

House visits can be arranged through your local district crime prevention unit and they will offer recommendations to improve your home security.

Re-keying or changing door locks was just one of several measures new homeowners and renters could take to remain safe and secure in their homes, she said.

"Changing locks is a very valid measure, especially if you do not know who the previous owners were and the likelihood of them returning, wanting access," Acting Sergeant Fahrenhorst said.

"If you've got any concerns around target hardening your own home or improving areas of weakness … we can come out and do a security audit.

"We do a home security assessment with homeowners and point out areas of improvement."

H.A. Reed Locksmiths general manager Nick Reed says new homeowners and renters should seriously consider changing their locks when they move in. Picture: Supplied
H.A. Reed Locksmiths general manager Nick Reed says new homeowners and renters should seriously consider changing their locks when they move in. Picture: Supplied

Nick Reed, who is general manager of Queensland's oldest locksmith business H.A. Reed Locksmiths, said the cost of re-keying or changing locks started around $200.

He said they regularly change locks for new homeowners and renters, but given the high volume of rentals and houses each year in Brisbane, the demand should be considerably higher.

"I think it should be a priority because you don't know who has a key to your new house and it may even have been a rental at one stage, so there could be quite a few keys out there," he said.

"I am surprised we don't get more calls as it should be a number one priority for new homeowners because you want that peace of mind."

Originally published as New homeowners' dumb oversight


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