Most people who are happy to instruct an agent to sell their property are usually just as happy to provide a key for the purpose of buyer viewings. And with good reason; the easier it is to gain access to a property, the more likely it is that the estate agent will be able to bring a regular flow of buyers around.
However, not all agents are as particular about key security as we are, and we recommend that you insist that your agent never lets out a key without accompanying the prospective purchaser – even if your property is empty.
Likewise, common sense dictates that following a move, the locks should be changed in any event, especially when you consider how many people might have had access to a property during its prior occupation – gardeners, painters, friends and relatives, home helps, cleaners, dog walkers, etc.. The thing is, you simply don’t know who has a key to your new home. Locks are supposed to provide security, but only when you know precisely who holds a key to these locks can you sleep easily at night.
Remember also that some people will naively attach an address tag to a key! Should the key be lost or stolen then your security is jeopardised. And whilst insurance policies will generally pay for the replacement of your keys if they are lost or stolen, they are less likely to pay for the necessary lock replacement.
As estate agents, we are fully conscious of the responsibility we have when we hold our clients’ keys. Indeed, many people entrust them to our safekeeping long after they have moved in. This has its advantages if/when you inevitably lock yourself out: ”No problem…my agent holds a key!”