October 2017 – Tenant keys

The rental agency of a lot in a Building Format scheme that we manage came to us requesting that we provision a key for the unit that they are managing as the tenant needed an additional key.  BCCM adjudications have been clear (http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/qld/QBCCMCmr/2000/71.html) that the body corporate is liable for the maintenance of locks and the provision of keys for those locks.  However, it is not liable to provide replacement keys where the loss is the fault of the holder.

It is the experience of many schemes where lots are rented, particularly in the tourist areas, that tenants are prone to losing keys which provides access to the building and unit.  For this reason, most bodies corporate in buildings where a large number of lots are let charge a standard fee for providing replacement or additional keys.

This practice makes sense where the key has a function providing access to a common entry door.  The Body Corporate needs to control the copying of the key and if necessary the storage and integrity of the master key that is used to make the copy.

However, where the key is unique to the lot and has no other function, it does not make practical sense.  In these cases, the lot owner will usually have the authority to have the key copied.

In our case, the key only gave access to the lot.  Additionally, in this complex, the lot key can only be copied by the manufacturer.  A local locksmith places an order (referencing the number found on the key head) and the key is cut after the name and signature is found to match the manufacturer’s records.  In cases where there is no match, the lot owner will need to provide proof of ownership such as a rates notice.