The One Thing You Need to Change Right After You Buy A Home

published Sep 7, 2019
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When you finally get your hands on the keys to a new place, there’s lots to do: unpack, decorate, and maybe even renovate. But before you dive into the fun stuff, Redditors say there’s one thing every new homeowner needs to do: change the locks. The pointer, posted to r/LifeProTips at the end of July, has gotten more than 17,000 upvotes since. 

And experts agree it’s a safe practice. “Knowing that past owners, their family, friends, and the neighbors don’t have a copy of your new home’s key will give you peace of mind,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly Company. 

And if it sounds like going above and beyond, think again: In the same thread, Redditors shared tales of former homeowners and contractors entering their new home with old keys—some innocently, others with malintent. 

“[I] lost a $14k engagement ring because some maintenance guy who previously worked on the property for Fannie May made a copy of the key,” wrote one poster. 

“When my boyfriend and I moved into our apartment, this guy apparently didn’t get the memo that the previous tenant had moved, and he unlocked the door, holding a bag of groceries, and stared dumbfounded at us as he slowly backed up and closed the door again,” wrote another. 

Changing the locks is good practice, even if you’re moving into a new build. “We found out about three months after moving into a brand new house that some trades had a key to our house, so they could access it to do repairs while we were at work,” wrote a Redditor.

Renters have options, too. Ask to install a door chain or a deadbolt for extra security when you’re home. You can also ask your landlord to change the main locks on the unit. If the owner of the apartment declines, offering to foot the bill might help you make some headway. 

Though it’s an expense, consider it a way to make your home more secure. Changing the locks presents you with an opportunity to upgrade your home’s security system, too. “With the many new home technologies available, homeowners have the option for keyless entry, smartphone access, video monitoring, and more,” Busch says.