Contents and personal liability

Lost key – who foots the bill?

Losing your key – more than just a nuisance if there's a bill to pay. Source: / Beeldbewerking

There's no denying that losing your house key is an enormous nuisance, but will this be compounded by a hefty bill to pay? Comparis explains what determines whether you need to pay for the lost key and how to proceed after it’s gone missing.

It's an unfortunate experience that's happened to many of us: you're standing at the front door, rummaging desperately in your bag – but in vain. Your house key has disappeared. The first thing to do is keep calm. And then?

Call the locksmith

If you haven't left a spare key with friends, family or neighbours, then you will need the help of a locksmith. Unfortunately, there are many to choose from. It's not easy to identify a reputable locksmith as opposed to one who is only interested in using your misfortune to his advantage. Consequently, the bill can be unexpectedly high. Although getting the door open appears to be a simple task that takes only a few minutes, the cost can run to several hundred francs.

Tip: Call your property management company or the police

Ask your property management company whether they work with a particular locksmith and whether they can recommend the service. If you live in a larger city like Zurich, you can also ask the police for a list of reliable locksmiths.  

Inform your property management company

Do you live in an apartment building and use the key to access the staircase? If so, you should report the loss to the property management company as quickly as possible. This also applies if you lose a key to the garage or other communal areas. Tenants must return all the keys they received from the landlord when they vacate the apartment anyway. If a tenant is unable to do so because he has misplaced the keys, then he will be required to pay compensation for the loss. 

Lost key – will the insurance pay?

A new lock or master key system is not always necessary. If the key does not clearly belong to a particular property, the lock doesn't usually need to be changed. 

If you lost the key along with personal documents, this is another matter. There is a high risk that you’ll end up with an uninvited guest in the apartment or communal areas. In this situation, the lock needs replacing. But don't worry, tenants who have lost their key don’t necessarily have to cover the costs themselves – the insurance company may step in.

Contents insurance 

Contents insurance only covers the cost if the key has been stolen. It will cover the cost of both replacing the key and changing the lock.

Personal liability insurance

If you are responsible for the loss of the key, and the lock needs replacing, you should report the incident to your personal liability insurance provider. They will usually cover the costs and examine whether they are even justified. Thanks to passive legal protection, unjustified claims can be rejected.

Depreciation due to age can also be deducted, so that the tenant or the insurer only pays the current value. Assuming apartment door locks have a lifespan of 30 years, if the lock is 15 years old then only half must be paid.


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