Is it a good idea to change locks after moving into a new home in the UK? The short and sweet answer is that yes, it’s certainly worth upgrading or replacing the locks on a new home.
Why is it so important to replace locks in a new home? Perhaps a better question to ask yourself is “why is it so important to secure my home?” The answer to that question should be a lot more obvious; home security is paramount when it comes to deterring burglaries and/or violent crime in your home. Locks are amongst the most important features for home security, so it’s never worth leaving things to chance and almost always worth the investment into upgraded home security by replacing or upgrading locks for your home’s access points.
Moving into older properties vs new builds
National statistics from HMRC show that from 2022-2023, 323,000 seasonally-adjusted property transactions were recorded in England & Wales with 249,920 estimated transactions expected from 2023-2024.
While the purchase of a home should be something worth celebrating, hold off on the bubbly (or a cuppa and some Jaffa cakes with friends and family) and make sure that your new investment is secure. Every single new homeowner in the UK – especially first-time homebuyers – should change their locks upon moving in.
There are some things to consider whether your property has been previously owned or if it’s a new build, however:
Changing locks in older properties
Most residential properties purchased in the UK have been previously owned and the conditions of the property can vary qualitatively immensely from one property to another. In terms of security and specifically locks, previously-owned properties may have outdated or faulty locks in need of replacement. The current locks on the property could also invalidate any home insurance claims if your property is targeted for burglary as they may not meet security requirements from your insurance provider. Moreover, previous tenants or the previous owner may still have a functioning key, which can pose security risks.
Therefore, any homeowners moving into previously-owned properties should replace and upgrade their locks as soon as possible after moving in.
Changing locks in new builds
One might assume that new build homes in the UK meet all relevant building regulations and standards, including safety features such as locks. While this is often the case, it should not be relied upon too heavily. There is always a possibility that the building contractor and/or any subcontractors working on the home may have had a key and that key might have been misplaced or used maliciously to gain access to the property.
For new builds, while not as urgent as for older properties, it is generally recommended to assess your home security and to replace and upgrade your locks to err on the side of caution.
Key reasons to change locks when moving into a new home
Why is it so important to change locks after moving into a new home? Security is the main reason. A study from Yale found that 42% of homeowners in the UK do not lock their doors or windows whilst at home, despite 58% of burglaries occurring when someone is at home.
Furthermore, approximately 40% of all home burglaries in England & Wales are caused by forced door entry. Strong locks are a physical repellant for burglary, but they also serve the purpose of visually deterring burglary attempts in the first place since most burglars in the UK are opportunistic and likely won’t want to waste their time or energy if a home appears to be adequately secure.
Below are the main reasons why changing locks is essential when moving into a new home:
- The current locks may be outdated;
- The current locks may be faulty, incorrectly fitted, or otherwise damaged;
- Previous tenants or the previous homeowner may still have a working key;
- Builders and contractors working on new builds may still have a key in circulation;
- The locks do not satisfy the security requirements of your home insurance policy;
- New locks are the best way to have complete peace of mind that your property is secure.
The best lock solutions for home security
Once you’ve moved into your new home, it is essential that you assess the security of your home by inspecting the locks on your doors and windows. The aforementioned study from Yale found that only 11% of homeowners in the UK change their locks as the first thing they do once they’ve moved in. That’s just a tad lower than the 15% that prioritise making a cup of tea, and substantially lower than the 33% that prioritise cleaning the property. It’s possible to do all three, but perhaps as homeowners we may wish to prioritise our own safety and security first!
The best lock solutions for home security should be locks that meet some minimum criteria and that fit within your budget. First and foremost, your locks should be compliant with your home insurance policy’s requirements. Secondly, your locks should be as high-quality as you can buy, within reason. Since locks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to meet different needs, it’s worth having a closer look at the different lock types for various access points on your property.
Which locks should you consider replacing or upgrading in your home?
Every home has its own layout and the types of (and number of) access points will vary, but generally the types of locks you should consider replacing or upgrading on your property include:
|Access Point||Lock(s)||Relevant Standard(s)|
BS EN 12209
(uPVC or composite door)
|Multi-point locking system
Euro cylinder locks
|Patio & sliding doors||Multi-point locking system||PAS24
Secured by Design
Secured by Design
|Garage & shed locks||Padlocks
Some homes may have additional doors and locks may be required, such as for lofts & attics, basements, storage areas, conservatory access, garden gates, and so on. For these types of access points, consider investing in secure, high-quality locks and ask a local locksmith for a home security assessment if in doubt.
Wooden front door locks
Wooden doors are commonly used for main entrances to homes and are most often equipped with one or two locks, most commonly a mortice lock and a night latch (aka Yale lock) for additional security.
There are many different types of mortice lock compatible with wooden doors, depending on its thickness. Many older homes use 3-lever mortice locks whilst newer homes or homes that have had the locks upgraded usually use 5-lever mortice locks. The most secure mortice locks for your home are 5-lever mortice locks compliant with British Standard BS3621. These locks are theft-resistant and generally accepted by most home insurance providers as the minimum requirement for home security.
Note that all BS3621 locks are 5-lever mortice locks, but not all 5-lever mortice locks are standards-compliant! Make sure that your mortice lock clearly has the British Standards kitemark displayed. The lock is typically also engraved with the standard, e.g. BS 3621:2007 directly underneath the kitemark.
While a BS3621-compliant mortice lock will typically suffice for home security and to meet insurance requirements, many homeowners also choose to install a night latch for added security. If you so desire, install a night latch for added peace of mind. Many modern night latches offer robust security such as deadbolts with keyed entry, some are simple mechanical latches that slide open or shut.
Interior door locks
Interior home security is often less important than securing entrance doors and windows, but it can still be desirable for additional privacy and/or in homes with multiple tenants, for example. Interior doors are often locked using mortice sashlocks in rooms such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and home offices, whereas common spaces with less privacy such as kitchens or living room doors often simply have a tubular latch or no lock at all.
uPVC & composite door locks
Along with timber, composite and uPVC materials are the most commonly used materials for entrance doors in homes in the UK. These latter materials tend to be thinner than timber doors and usually cannot be equipped with mortice locks. Instead, composite and uPVC doors typically have euro cylinder locks and are often used with multi-point locking systems.
Euro cylinder locks have a slim profile but can be highly secure and a superb deterrent to burglary, provided they meet minimum standards for security. West Yorkshire Police recognise two nationally recognised standards for euro cylinder locks, British Standards TS007 and Sold Secure Diamond Standard (SS312). For SS312-compliant locks, simply upgrading your uPVC/composite door with these locks will satisfy most security requirements.
For TS007 compliance, it is important to do a little more research. TS007-compliant euro cylinder locks are either rated 1-star or 3-star, with 3 stars being preferred and recommended by authorities such as West Yorkshire Police. The lock should clearly display the British Standards kitemark with the star rating engraved above. To get to a 3-star rating, homeowners can do the following:
- Install a 3-star TS007-compliant euro cylinder lock;
- Install a 1-star TS007-compliant euro cylinder lock and a 2-star rated security hardware such as a security door handle.
For the best possible security, it’s possible to reach a 5-star rating by pairing a 3-star rated euro cylinder lock with a 2-star rated security door handle.
In addition to euro cylinder locks, many homes use multi-point locking systems whereby multiple bots are engaged directly into the door when the key is turned. Any multi-point locking systems used in your home should be compliant with PAS24 and/or the Secured by Design scheme.
Patio & sliding door locks
For homes with a back garden and/or a patio or conservatory, door locks are no less important to have installed as a determined burglar may opt for a side or back door if it appears easier to gain entry.
Most doors used in these applications are composite or uPVC and are often locked with multi-point locking systems. Sliding doors may come with their own locking mechanisms, although these may not offer the level of safety desired for your home and you may wish to have the locks upgraded.
Although most burglary attempts come from trying to enter through a door, persistent burglars may try to enter from a window, particularly if the window is within reasonable reach, e.g. a ground level window. Window locks often aren’t as robust as door locks, but even a simple lock is often enough to deter unwanted access to your home.
Most windows used in homes in the UK come with old-fashioned espagnolette locks. Casement windows with espagnolette locks are relatively secure when the lock is engaged, although some homeowners may wish to upgrade their security by installing a sash jammer or sash stop.
Keep in mind that there typically isn’t any economical reason to overspend on high-security window locks. A determined burglar can break a window, no matter how robust the lock. Nevertheless, having at least some form of lock or sash jammer is recommended for your windows.
Garage & shed locks
Ancillary structures on your property attached to or detached from your home such as a garage or shed should also be given consideration in terms of security. Detached structures such as sheds may not provide burglars with access to your home, but they may still be desirable targets if your belongings are deemed valuable. Structures attached to your home such as conservatories or garages likewise could be enticing for burglars, especially if they provide easier access to rooms within your home.
There are many different types of locks that one may wish to install for these applications, such as padlocks on sheds or more secure deadbolts. Garages can be equipped with high-security lock features such as garage door defenders for up-and-over garage doors. It is worthwhile to assess the locks on all ancillary structures on your property and to upgrade them as necessary, especially if the structure has direct access to the rest of your home.
Home insurance and door & window locks
Nearly three-quarters of all homeowners in the UK have some form of home insurance, including contents insurance and buildings insurance, the latter of which is often required under mortgage terms by lenders. Home insurance policies can vary significantly from one provider to another, but nearly all home insurance providers in the UK require that homeowners meet minimum security requirements.
The accepted benchmark for home security is, without doubt, the BS3621 standard for mortice locks used on entrance doors. Your home insurance provider may have additional security requirements in the policy agreement, but it is safe to say that BS3621 is the established minimum.
This is important in the event that you ever need to file a claim as a result of a burglary, for example. If the insurance provider discovers that the door was not BS3621-approved or if there are no signs of damage or forced entry, your claim will likely be rejected. The latter statement is important too, since the lack of evidence of forced entry is generally a sign that the homeowner failed to replace the locks (i.e. the intruder had a key) and consequently did not exercise due diligence.
When purchasing replacement locks for your new home, always make sure that the locks are standards-approved and are acceptable with your insurance provider. Two of the most frequently-seen kitemarks signalling compliance are:
Home security products such as mortice locks and euro cylinder locks with these kitemarks are proven to be theft-resistant and manufacturers must meet stringent criteria including frequent product testing. Products with the CE kitemark are generally acceptable in the UK as they meet European standards, however European CE-compliant locks do not necessarily have to be tested every year and as such are not to be assumed to be equal in quality to British Standards locks.
How to upgrade or replace locks in your home
If you’ve just moved into a new home and are perhaps feeling overwhelmed with excitement, you may not be giving too much thought at first to all of the lock standards mentioned above. Fair enough! Nevertheless, it is important to give some thought as to how you plan to go about changing your locks and upgrading them to standards-compliant locks.
Many high-quality lock and home security products can be easily purchased nowadays thanks to the magic of e-commerce, but DIY lock installation can vary from mildly frustrating to very frustrating if you haven’t done it before. Moreover, DIY lock installation could pose serious security hazards if the lock is improperly installed as well as potentially damage your door, jamb, or other parts of your new home.
For the safest and most professional installation of new locks in your home, it’s best to leave the task to a professional residential locksmith near you. A qualified residential locksmith has the expertise and tools needed to professionally install locks anywhere in your home, but they can also source quality lock products that stand the test of time.
Finding a vetted residential locksmith near you in the UK starts with a quick search here on Rated Locksmiths.