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Landlords warned over threat from rogue locksmiths

Landlords who frequently have to change locks after tenants leave are being warned to be on their guard against rogue locksmiths who have become more active during the pandemic.

The Master Locksmiths Association, the largest trade body in the UK representing the profession, says its latest survey shows that 66 per cent of its members have been called to a job after property owners - many of them landlords - inadvertently called out a rogue locksmith over the past 12 months. 

Collectively, respondents have attended more than 300 botched jobs involving a rogue locksmith over the last year and 65 per cent said rogues were overcharging by £200 or more.


The association says its been contacted upwards of 500 times in the last 12 months with stories about unscrupulous activities by people masquerading as locksmiths. With unemployment rates rising after companies cut thousands of jobs as Covid-19 continues to hit the economy, the MLA is predicting an upturn in unscrupulous activity in the industry.

Steffan George, managing director of the MLA, says: “The industry is unregulated so it’s easy to set up as a locksmith with no training, experience or insurance. During the pandemic, we expect the number of incidences involving rogue locksmiths to rise as people under increasing financial pressure see it as an easy way to make money.”



He continues: “Experience tells us that at best, rogues are going to do a sub-standard job or overcharge after initially quoting a cheaper price in a tactic known as bait-and-switch, sometimes ultimately charging 10 times that of an inspected locksmith, or at worse, display threatening behaviour or withhold keys to locks they’ve just fitted.

“There are already hundreds of uncertified people working in the industry. With numbers expected to increase, people need to be aware of the dangers and know how to select a reputable locksmith to ensure they don’t fall victim to a rogue.”

He says one of the tell-tale signs of a rogue operator is the unusually low price quoted on the initial conversation with a landlord or other prospective client, while he advises people to ask about other jobs done by the locksmith - “tradesmen should be happy to talk about previous jobs and experience as well as provide photographs and recommendations” he claims.

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    If a lock needs changing I do so my self, it's not rocket science, dead easy, and all available from screwfix or toolstation.

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    • 24 November 2020 09:21 AM

    Quite right.
    Easy, easy. A locksmith will want £100 ++++ where I live

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    Andrew, I was required to change all locks in the house for HM0 regulations to Euro Locks with thumb screw type on inside so that no one could get locked in their room and front door operate similar way to get out without a key, fair enough done all that. Then Tenants came along and changed all the Euro Cylinders operated with keys from both sides, when they left key's not returned or lost, result me having to change them all again, not easy but nearly impossible as I have to drill them out when I haven't got a key to line up the lever inside it cannot be got out, now made more difficult by stupid manufacturers with tempered steel, who on earth ever broke in a property by drilling the lock its a bit of a give away are they mad, surely the window is forced first, not easy to change the locks and the rubbish fire doors BS or Euro this that & the other that we are required to put is damaged in the process.


    I always check locks are OK, along with other things, before agreeing on deposit refunds. I have a term in the lease about not changing locks etc.


    is this a legal requirement? i think not--ask council for compo


    I don't have any HMOs so I don't have that problem, I have had tenants change the locks , but no deposit returned without first having the keys, I have however had to drill a jammed lock out once, it took a little while and a few drill bits but got there in the end.

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    It was not possible to recover any costs regarding the locks, or other damage to the property amounting to thousands of £'s because of Tenants behavior, visits to the property by police, my second letter from Council warning me of robust action against me, there you go / I knew what was coming next probably a bigger hit so I advised them I would not be renewing contract and they did leave after a couple of months notice, don't thing its any rubbish house either I built it myself 35 years ago to a high standard complete with the NHBC guarantee at the time which I was a member of for 20 years. I suspect they had something to hide as well and I had to stay quiet & swallow all costs, its the new legal system its the person that didn't commit the Crime that pays the penalty.


    Yes sometimes we have no choice other than to swallow hard and move on, I think it has happen to all of us at some point


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