Keys Deposit on Rentals in Ontario – The Buyer/Tenants Edition

Spring is here!

Have you seen a spike in rentals or a resurgence of the winter inventory that has been patiently waiting for great tenants?

These days being a good tenant is not enough, owners and landlords are demanding A+, AAA+ , AA+ . I am always intrigued by this grading system, and I wonder if the same applies to landlords, their agents or representatives.  This is a topic for a different blog post, so let’s focus on Keys Deposit solely.

Times have changed, many condos are being built yearly, and the landlord and tenants board has this to say for key deposits:

Can a landlord ask for a deposit for keys?  Key Deposits

Yes, but only if:

  • the deposit is refundable and,
  • the amount of the deposit is not more than the expected cost of replacing the key(s) if they are not returned to the landlord.

The landlord must give the deposit back when the tenant turns in their key(s) at the end of their tenancy.

Based on the above information , i’d say Landlords asking for a deposit for keys are asking based on the replacement cost for the  Garage access fob/Key fob/ Wafer / Locksmith cut unit key / Mailbox Key/ Common Elements Key which they pass on to their new tenants.

Stop – do you mean we can safely assume that the key deposit being asked for is equivalent to the legitimate replacement costs often disclosed within the Condo rules document provided by the owner/landlord or obtained from the onsite property management company?

As a professional in the real estate industry, my experience has taught me the following:

  • For condos/apartments with per Unit keys that are cut by a Professional Locksmith – the cost of replacement is approx. 50 -$100.
  • For condos/apartments with per wafers and garage access fobs – the cost of replacement is approx. 50-$150
  • For condos/apartments, 2 sets of mailbox keys are often handed over – the cost of replacement with some condos is approx. $ 30-$45 while some condos have mailbox keys that can be cut/duplicated at your friendly Canadin Tire,  Rona, Home Hardware, Lowes, Home Depot, or other key cutting service provider.
  • For condos/apartments with keys for specific common elements e.g. locker rooms – the keys can be cut or duplicated at your friendly key cutting service provider.

Buyers/tenants out there, my suggestion for the next time you are presented with a request for a key deposit of $200, $250, $300, $500 ,  be curious and try the following;

–  Call the onsite property mgmt. office, speak with the property administrator, assistant property or property manager and ask for the document that confirms the cost of replacement.

– Ask  for a receipt for the Key Deposit

– Ask why there is a need for a key deposit if you know for a fact that the keys can be duplicated at a friendly key cutting service provider

– An alternate approach for tenants under representation with a knowledgeable Real Estate Agent is the opportunity to insert a clause for Replacement Keys which places the onus and cost of replacement on the tenant.  This protects the interests of both parties and hopefully allays all fear/concern.


Managing with head and heart


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