I'm looking for a new place to live. I would likely be living in a shared place where I don't know everyone. While I wouldn't move into a place where I didn't trust everyone, I feel much better having a lock on my door (that can lock from the outside). This is mainly for peace of mind.

What is the best way to ask the question if the bedroom has a lock that can be locked from the outside without insinuating that I don't trust the other tenants or that I'm hiding something?

I've tried asking directly but get responses like "no but everyone here trusts each other". Where I live the market is very in the landlords favor so if they get an impression there's something wrong they would just go with someone else.

  • 4
    Where you are matters, there are legal implications in the UK for houses in multiple occupancy and internal door locks.
    – Separatrix
    Jan 18, 2018 at 8:40
  • 2
    If it is critical to you that the door has a lock (as it would be for me) then why would it be a problem if someone who didn't provide lockable rooms was offended at the question and went with someone else? That said, when I was in that situation I also had the (true) reason that my Contents Insurance only covered my stuff if the room was lockable, which meant i could present it as a technicality rather than 'mere' preference or distrust..
    – user9837
    Jan 18, 2018 at 14:22
  • @Spagirl some people find the question suspicious (or even insulting) regardless of what the answer is.
    – bluevapor
    Jan 20, 2018 at 7:55

2 Answers 2


Searching for a place to live is a bit like interviewing for a new job. They're not just interviewing you, you're interviewing them. So the best thing to do is just ask.

I understand where you're coming from, I've had things go missing in shared living spaces, but a lock doesn't necessarily imply that you're worried about your housemates. It's just another layer of security and it could and probably should be presented that way.

As in:

Does the room have a locking door? Not that I don't trust the housemates, it's just always good to have an added layer of security. Can't be too careful.

If not, do you mind if I add a lock?

If so, what's your policy on changing locks?

(it's worth asking about changing the locks, you don't know how many previous tenants still have copies of those keys)


I think you're already asking the right way. Just because you're not getting the answer you want doesn't mean you are asking the wrong question.

What you want seems perfectly reasonable to me and I imagine that if you are patient you will find what you are looking for.

If finding a place to live is time-critical then perhaps you could consider compromises to get you in a place and get the pressure off you while you continue to look for something more suitable. There are portable motion-sensor alarms which cost around £30 and can be temporarily attached to the inside of a door and set as you exit, this could give you peace of mind if you settled for a room without a lock. Alternatively you could get a small lockable box / safe to keep valuables safe inside your room - or combine the two by putting a motion alarm on the box?

  • Agreed^ There is nothing more to say here. You ask.
    – A.fm.
    Jan 19, 2018 at 21:55

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