It costs me six dollars per lock to have mine rekeyed. After tenant moves out, as part of the move out procedure, I instruct them to lock the door, text me they are out and HAVE RETURNED LEGAL POSSESSION TO LANDLORD, and put key in a recycling bin, not at that house. Then I head over with a temporary bunch of deadbolts, take the ones from the house to be rekeyed, and re-install them. The place I take the locks to be rekeyed keeps a file of all the combinations on the houses, so they can be sure to not duplicate the keys.
I use only deadbolts to lock, then closet/ passage knobs to open close, thus not possible for tenants to lock themselves out of house. So, each house has three deadbolts (2 on house, one on garage,) thus $18 plus my time/ labor to rekey a house. I consider it part of the cost of maintaining a rental. But, I do charge $25 for a overhead door opener for the garage at move-in. Those get lost a lot.
Now, if a tenant wants the locks rekeyed, maybe the lost their keys, then they pay those costs. My courts are known to not like a lot of ‘landlord costs’ to be deducted from security deposits, I am thinking my area’s court commissioners/ judges might not allow a deduction for re-keying between tenants. My courts don’t allow fees for carpet cleaning, for instance. Or so I have heard, I have not tested these things myself.
I would definitely follow advice of your attorney over advice from real estate agent. BUT, I make sure my tenants know they are getting a home with re-keyed locks. As you mentioned, that gives peace of mind. During lease signing, I give the tenants one extra key, saying ‘You may give that to someone you trust, or just keep it. I rekey the locks between tenants, so no old keys are ever re-used. ‘ Do NOT say this with anyone not on the lease around, dear readers. You wouldn’t want a sketchy friend or relative to pester tenant for that key. I have NOT had this practice courts tested, so cannot say for sure if that will ever come back to bite me. So far, so good. --70.92.xxx.xxx