Lost your keys in Berlin? Locked yourself out? Here's what to do

Lost your keys in Berlin? Locked yourself out? Here's what to do

How to replace your lost or stolen keys, and how to call a locksmith and get back into your apartment.

Locking yourself out happens to everyone. This guide shows you how to get back into your apartment, and what to do if you can't find your keys.

Calling a locksmith in Berlin

If you are locked out of your apartment, you must call a locksmith (Schlüsseldienst). It should cost 50 to 150€ to open a door, depending on the the time. Locksmiths charge more at night and during the weekend.

When you call a locksmith, ask for the price on the telephone. If possible, ask for a fixed price. Call multiple locksmiths if necessary. There are many dishonest locksmiths who charge special fees1.

I personally recommend Albert Schlüsseldienst. I have used them 3 times already. They charge 50 to 90€ to open a door1. AS Schlüsseldienst is often recommended too, but they charge more.

After the locksmith opens your door, you must prove that you live there. You can show your passport or your Meldebescheinigung. Ask for a receipt and keep it. Your household insurance (Hausratversicherung) might cover the costs.

Replacing lost keys in Germany

Replacing your keys is cheap and easy: just go to any locksmith (Schlüsseldienst) and ask them for a new key. We paid around 5€ per key.

The only exception is your building key (the one you use to enter the building). You need permission from your Hausverwaltung to replace a building key1, 2. The Hausverwaltung will give you a card (Schlüsselkarte or Schließplan) that you must bring to the locksmith. Building keys are more expensive to replace: around 50€ per key.

Some locksmiths will replace your building key without permission from the Hausverwaltung1. They still charge a higher price for it1. We paid 40€. You can also get the keys replaced in Poland1. Your new key might look different. If you move out, you need to give your keys back. Your landlord might notice that one key looks different.

Vehicle keys can be replaced at the dealership1. If the key has a chip in it, it can cost a lot more. You need to bring your vehicle's registration papers to get a new key1.

Do I need to pay to replace the locks?

It depends on what happened to your keys.

When you move out of your apartment, you must give your keys back. If some keys are missing, your landlord can charge you to replace them. This can be very expensive. They can take the money from your Kaution.

If you lost a key, your landlord can sometimes charge you to change the locks for the entire building.

  • If your keys were stolen, the landlord can't charge you to change the locks, because it's not your fault1.
  • If you lost your keys, it depends. If someone finds your keys, but can't find where you live, nothing can happen. If you dropped your keys in a lake, nothing can happen. Your landlord can't charge you to change the locks, because it's not necessary1. If someone can find your keys and find where you live, then the locks need to be changed, and you will have to pay for it.

Your rent contract can't force you to pay to replace the locks. That clause would be invalid1. The landlord can't take your money and not change the locks1.

Your liability insurance might cover the cost of replacing the locks1. This is why having liability insurance is important. Otherwise, it can cost you over 1000€ to replace all the locks.

Other good advice

  • If your keys are lost or stolen, you might be able to get them back. This guide explains how to find your lost keys.
  • Leave one of your keys to a trusted friend. If you lock yourself out, you won't need to call a locksmith.
  • Get liability insurance. It's the most important insurance to have. It covers the cost of replacing the locks. This guide explains why it's so important. Popsure and Coya's liability insurance cover lost keys. They both cost around 4€ per month.
  • Get household insurance. Some policies cover the cost of a locksmith. Coya's household insurance covers locksmiths.

Comments

  • Stella

    My bag (phone, cards and house key inside) was stolen and now the housing agency asks me to pay €30 for a new key plus €260 to change the lock cylinder. They also say (as the same key also opens the main door for the other 5 flats in the building - which seems insecure in the first place) that at any time in the future, or when I move out which could be in years, they are able to make me pay for the rest of the locks to be changed which can be payed upfront or taken from my deposit. I've been trying to get in contact with the agency for weeks just to get a key, so if they want to change any door locks for security reasons it seems too late - particularly if they decide to change it when I move out. Unfortunately I don't have liability insurance - in this case can they still make me pay for everything? Thank you for any advice!

    Reply to Stella
    • Reply to Stella

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Don't pay anything! If your bag was stolen, it's not your fault, and you don't have to pay anything. The courts have already decided that. We cited a few sources in the article (click the little numbers next to the sentences) that confirm that. Don't let your landlord take advantage of you!

      Reply to Nicolas Bouliane
      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

      • Stella

        Thank you Nicolas for your help - that's a big relief!

        Reply to Stella
        • Reply to Stella

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