Are you locked out of the house? A locksmith near you can help.
Here are some key points:
- Common reasons for being locked out of your house: lost keys, locked keys inside, broken key, damaged lock.
- What to do if you're locked out of your house: find spare key, enter through different door, call locksmith.
- Don't force your way in or break the lock yourself.
- Locksmiths can help you regain access using non-destructive entry techniques.
- Emergency lockouts are more expensive than non-emergency lockouts.
- Police cannot help you with lockouts except in extraordinary circumstances.
- Need to provide proof of ownership or residency to locksmith.
Being locked out of your home or business can be a stressful experience.
The good news is that there are qualified locksmiths that can help you regain access to your property.
There are many possible reasons for why you might be locked out, and those reasons will matter when it comes to finding the best solution.
Below are some of the things you should and shouldn't do if ever you're locked out of your home, flat, or business property, as well as ways to prevent it from happening in the future.
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Table of contents:
Locked out of house UK: How does it happen?
In the UK, the number one thing that most adults tend to lose at one point another in their lives is their keys.
Losing or misplacing your keys can be quite a frustrating experience, since those keys might be the only way to get back inside of your home or business.
There are many reasons why people may be locked out of their property, some more embarrassing perhaps than others, but a qualified locksmith isn't paid to judge because we've all done it at some point, surely.
What matters is that you find quick and dependable solutions to the problem so that you can carry on with your day.
Most common reasons for house lockouts
Below are some of the most common reasons why people are locked out of their house in the UK:
Lost or misplaced keys
The most common reason that people are locked out of their home, flat, or business property is from losing or misplacing their keys.
If you've lost your keys, a locksmith can help you regain access to the property and cut new keys for you, with or without the original on hand.
If your keys are located inside of the property (i.e. on a shelf or in your bag/purse), there may be no need to duplicate the key at all. Instead, a locksmith will simply open the door.
Locked out with the key inside the door
If your keys are just on the other side of the door, they may be so close yet so far away. A locksmith can help open the door so that you can retrieve the keys.
Key stuck/broken in the lock
If your keys have been damaged or worn out, they may no longer turn the locking mechanism well (or at all).
Sometimes, keys can snap inside of the lock cylinder.
A qualified locksmith will use key extraction tools and techniques to remove the broken key and duplicate a copy, even if the key is broken in two or more pieces.
Keys not turning in the lock
When your key goes into the cylinder but doesn't turn as it should, the problem is usually with the lock and not the key.
An experienced locksmith can identify the root of the problem and provide effective solutions.
Lock is damaged/broken
If the lock is visibly damaged or broken due to vandalism or a burglary attempt, it is strongly recommended that you have the lock and key replaced completely.
Depending on the circumstances, the damage may also affect the door itself, which may need to be readjusted as well. A locksmith can repair or replace your door lock and issue a new set of keys.
What to do if you're locked out of your house
Locked out of your home in the UK? Follow these steps to get back into your property safely and with minimal delay:
Consider your options
After it dawns on you that you're locked out of your property, you should first consider whether or not you've given a spare key to a trusted family member, friend, or neighbour that you can use.
If you're renting a flat, you could also contact your landlord or the letting agency. This could save you time and money, especially if you've got help nearby.
Try an unlocked window or door
If you've got keys to another door (e.g. back door) or can safely enter through a window, this could get you back inside the property and to reclaim your keys if inside.
Contact a nearby locksmith
If you still haven't got a way to enter the property, you should contact a reputable locksmith near you.
Lockouts are amongst the most common reasons why people call locksmiths, and a trained locksmith will be able to help you regain access to just about any property quickly and with minimal damage to your door/locks.
Although not recommended, DIY methods of re-entry are possible with enough persistence and skill.
A hair grip, paperclip, or a hard plastic card can be used to pick the lock and to unlock the door.
This guide will not go into depth on these methods as they are not recommended methods of dealing with a property lockout.
Upgrade your locks and security measures
Once you've resolved the immediate problem of regaining access to the property, it's important that you take action afterwards.
If the keys were simply left inside or in the door, you may not need to have the locks replaced. If your keys were lost or misplaced and can be retraced back to your property, simply cutting a duplicate key isn't good enough since a burglar can simply walk right through the door.
In most circumstances, a locksmith will recommend that you change your locks.
You should also contact your insurance provider, as they will not accept a claim if your property is the target of a burglary and you did not exercise due diligence by replacing your locks when the keys were lost.
Consider upgrading your mortice locks with BS3621 compliant locks or SS312 Diamond cylinder compliant locks for UPVC doors with Euro cylinder locks.
What to do when locked out of house: Summary
- Try to use a spare key to regain access;
- Try to enter through a different door or a window (if safe to do so);
- Contact your insurance provider and replace your locks if the keys were misplaced or lost, preferably with BS3621 compliant locks for your front/back door.
- Try to force your way through the door. This can damage the door and your property and end up costing you far more than anticipated to repair;
- Try to force the key inside of the lock if it's snapped or broken. Although forcing the key through can help you open the lock, it will make the job more challenging for a locksmith to extract the key, which means more labour and more money spent;
- Rush to call the first locksmith you find. It's understandable that you want to get back inside quickly, but there are unfortunately many rogue traders that will gladly take advantage of your situation and try to scam you. Instead, choose reputable and trustworthy locksmiths near you by using Rated Locksmiths.
Locked out of house locksmith services
Locksmiths can help customers regain access to their property through many different methods, depending on the type of door, lock, and accounting for the customer's circumstances.
Generally, what a locksmith will do is use non-destructive entry techniques to let you back inside.
Once you're inside of your property, the locksmith will recommend a further course of action to secure your property.
If the keys are lost or misplaced or the lock has been damaged, it is strongly recommended that you have the locks replaced for security reasons.
The approximate cost for a house lockout is around £70 and takes around half an hour, but these figures can vary widely depending on the type of lock, door, distance to the property, and labour required.
Note that this is normally the cost of opening the door; replacing locks, extracting broken keys, duplicating keys, and/or readjusting the door will come with their own fees for parts and labour.
Expect to pay a premium for emergency 24/7 lockout services, especially if you're located in London.
Locked out of house emergency vs less urgent
If you're locked out of your primary residence and need to regain access without delay, it may be best to contact an emergency locksmith.
If it's late at night or early in the morning, a 24/7 emergency locksmith can provide prompt and professional service, although this often means that their labour fees (or call out fees) are substantially higher.
If you've been locked out of your garage or perhaps your front or rear door but still have access to the property, the problem may be a hindrance but not so urgent as to require immediate assistance.
If you can afford to wait, scheduling an appointment with a locksmith for non-emergency services can be more affordable.
Police assistance with property lockouts
Police do not carry locksmithing tools or equipment and cannot help you with a property lockout except under extraordinary circumstances.
Otherwise, police such as the Lancashire Constabulary recommend that you first contact a locksmith.
You should contact the police if you're locked out of your house and are in immediate danger or if your child is unsafe inside the property, for example. In this latter case, police can force open the door.
Verification of house ownership/residency
If you've contacted a locksmith to help with unlocking your house door, you will be asked to provide proof of ownership or residency at the given address.
The reasons why should be obvious, but the reality is that most of us don't walk around with our home deed in hand for just the moment when we're locked out of our home.
A reputable locksmith needs to know that you live at the given address, so they will ask to see verification in the form of a driving license or utility bill, for example. Other ways of verifying may be acceptable as well.
Perhaps you've just walked your bin out to the kerb in the evening, wearing nothing but your pyjamas, then find that you've forgotten the key.
If a neighbour can identify that you indeed live at the address, the locksmith can provide service. They may ask that you show them a document proving you live there after you're let in.
If you rent your flat, your landlord may be able to speak with the locksmith to verify that you live there.
If the locksmith does not make any effort to verify ownership or residency, it is quite often a big RED FLAG that you may be dealing with a rogue trader.
A note on lock drilling & rogue traders
Since house lockouts are amongst the most common services provided by locksmiths, they also tend to be the most lucrative "services" provided by cowboy rogue traders -- a true plague to the trustworthiness of the locksmithing industry.
Most rogue traders use a bait-and-switch scam and there are often a few ways to spot a scammer to know about.
If the locksmith first reaches for a power drill to remove the lock before inspecting it or asking any questions about your keys/locks, you are most likely dealing with a scammer.
A qualified and experienced locksmith can open almost any lock, especially front/rear door mortice locks, without the need to drill.
Under very few circumstances does a locksmith need to drill out the existing lock.
What normally happens is that the scammer will replace the lock and charge the customer an absurd markup, adding the fee for drilling out the old lock.
Don't be caught unaware and only engage with reputable locksmiths.
A genuine locksmith will not hesitate to answer any enquiries you may have, whereas a rogue trader will often only provide vague answers or shy away from enquiries regarding their "business."
How to prevent lockouts in the future
If you've ever lost your keys and needed a locksmith for lockout services, chances are you'd like to avoid it from happening again in the future.
Fortunately, there are some simple tips that can reduce the chances of you experiencing this again:
Get spare keys
Get your keys duplicated and give them to friends, family, or a trustworthy neighbour just in case it happens again.
You could also keep a "secret" key hidden underneath a welcome mat or behind a tree, but this could also be a security risk;
Install a door restrictor
A door restrictor can allow you to partially close the door and take out the wheelie bins or speak with a neighbour, for example, without the risk of having the door completely close (and lock) behind you:
Oil your locks and doors
A good lock can last for a few decades, but the constant rotating of the cylinder does require some occasional lubricant. A little WD-40 in the locks and door jamb can reduce the chances of your key snapping in the cylinder or the lock wearing out;
Install a thumbturn lock
Thumbturns make it so that you're far less likely to lose your keys inside the door;
Take note of ‘sticky' locks
If you're noticing that your key isn't turning with ease as it used to, the key and/or lock may be showing signs of wear and tear. Address the problem before it gets worse.
Locked out of house UK: FAQs
What should I do if I'm locked out of my house in the UK?
The first thing that you should do if you are locked out of your home is to try and gain access through an alternative door or window.
If they are all locked and you cannot enter the property, you should contact a residential locksmith to help you regain entry.
Can a locksmith help me get into my property if I'm locked out?
Yes, the most common service offered by locksmiths in the UK is for property lockouts.
A qualified and reputable locksmith can inspect the lock and use non-destructive methods to open the door and allow you to reclaim your keys.
How long does a door lock out service take?
Depending on the type of lock that needs to be opened and the complexity of the job, it can take anywhere from around 30 minutes to an hour for a qualified locksmith to open a door.
How much does it cost to hire a locksmith to unlock a property?
Generally, the cost to unlock a property in the UK can vary from around £70 to over £120.
The price can vary substantially depending on the complexity of the lock, whether emergency assistance is required, the location, and according to the labour rate of the locksmith.
How can I prevent being locked out of my house?
There are many steps you can take to mitigate the risks of being locked out of your house in the future.
Some simple tips include having spare keys cut and keeping them someplace safe or entrusting them to a family member or friend, getting rid of keys altogether and installing a keyless entry system, and using brightly coloured or large keychains so that you don't forget your keys in the first place.
What should I do if I suspect someone has tampered with my locks?
Most property crime in the UK is from opportunistic criminals, but some persistent burglars will try to tamper with or cut through your locks to enter your property.
If you have noticed damage to your locks and suspect that they've been tampered with, you should first contact police to notify them of the crime.
Then, it is strongly recommended that you hire a locksmith to repair, rekey, replace, and/or upgrade your locks to maintain robust security.
Locked out your home: Closing thoughts
Here are some additional tips to prevent being locked out of your house:
- Keep a spare key in a safe place, such as with a trusted neighbour or family member.
- Label your keys with the address of your home.
- Make copies of your keys and keep them in a different location.
- Use a doormat with a pocket for keys.
- Install a keypad lock or a smart lock that can be opened with your phone.
Get quotes from residential or commercial locksmiths nearby.