Can you make copies of apartment keys? Legality + ethics

Living in an apartment comes with its fair share of challenges, and one of them is keeping your space secure. Your trusty apartment key is your front-line defense, but have you ever wondered if it’s cool to make a few extra copies for peace of mind?

In this blog post, we’re going to dive into this common dilemma and help you figure out whether it’s okay to duplicate your apartment key, plus the lowdown on how to go about it the right way.

Can you make copies of apartment keys

Is it legal to copy an apartment key?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of making key copies, let’s chat about the moral side of things. Is it cool to sneakily copy your apartment key without giving a heads-up to your landlord or property manager? Well, legally the answer depends on your lease agreement and local laws.

1. Check Your Lease Agreement

The first thing you need to do is dust off your lease agreement and give it a read. Most lease agreements have something to say about keys. Some will flat out tell you that copying the key is a no-no without the landlord’s green light. Others might give you the green light under certain conditions, and some might just stay silent on the topic.

If your lease agreement puts its foot down about key duplication without permission, making copies on the sly could land you in hot water. You could end up breaching your contract, facing legal repercussions, or even an eviction. So, always play by the lease agreement rules.

2. Local Laws and Regulations

Your local laws and regulations also play a part in the key-copying game. Some places have strict rules that dictate how many keys landlords should provide or whether you can make copies without their say-so. Do a little research on your local laws to make sure you’re in the clear.

3. Talk to Your Landlord about Key Copying

If you’re still not sure where you stand regarding key copies, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with your landlord or property manager. They’re the folks who can give you the lowdown on whether it’s okay to copy your apartment key and what the right way to do it is. Being open and upfront is the best way to make sure you’re on the right side of the rules and keep things sweet with your landlord.

How to Make Copies of Your Apartment Key Responsibly

Assuming that your lease agreement and local laws give you the green light, here’s how to go about making copies of your apartment key the right way:

Get the Landlord’s Green Light

The most responsible route to copying your apartment key is to get the thumbs-up from your landlord or property manager. Have a chat about why you need extra copies, and make sure to follow any specific instructions they might have. This way, you’re in compliance with your lease, and you’re keeping the landlord happy.

Find a Key Copy Service

If your landlord says “yes” to letting you copy your apartment key, it’s time to find a place to make your copy. Some places that we suggest are locksmiths, hardware stores, and any place with a key copy station. Automated key copy stations are pretty common in places like grocery stores but are completely self service.

We have had the best luck using smaller “ma and pa” hardware stores because they typically offer you a guarantee that they key copy will work. If you go home and test the new apartment key, and it doesn’t work, they should re-do it for you.

We have only needed to revisit a copier once for a key re-do. The machines these days are pretty precise so you should be good after one visit.

Keep a Tally

Once you’ve got those new key copies in hand, keep tabs on how many are floating around. This helps you keep an eye on who has access to your place and maintain your security. If a key goes missing or there’s a change in roommates, having an accurate count will save the day.

Share the Right Way

If you decide to share key copies with roomies, family members, or trusted friends, do it responsibly. Only give keys to people you absolutely trust, and make sure they get the memo about taking good care of the key. It’s all about keeping your pad secure and avoiding any unauthorized drop-ins.

Replace Lost or Stolen Keys

If one of your keys goes AWOL or gets swiped, don’t dawdle. Let your landlord or property manager know ASAP and replace that key pronto. Waiting too long to deal with a lost key can spell big trouble for your pad’s security.

Making copies of your apartment key is all about playing by the rules, whether that means sticking to your lease agreement, following local laws, or getting your landlord’s permission.

When you do need an extra key or two, keeping the lines of communication open with your landlord and using a reputable locksmith is the way to go. Responsible key management is a crucial part of apartment living, ensuring you stay safe and secure in your home sweet home.

About Chad & Rachel

Rachel and Chad have over 17 years of experience as both renters and landlords. They were tenants in 7 different apartments before becoming landlords of 9 apartments in Chicago. Renting apartments from landlords and being landlords themselves have helped them gain the knowledge that they want to share with renters. Whether you are at the beginning of your rental journey or in the middle of your lease and dealing with complex apartment issues, we are happy to help where we can. Read more about Rachel and Chad, or send a message using this contact form.

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