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Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Posted
24 MARCH 2023
5 min read
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Locked Out: The UK's House Key Habits

Whether you accidentally leave the house without your keys or lose them while you’re out, getting locked out of your home can be a stressful situation. Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon occurrence; we found that over a third of UK residents lock themselves out at least once a year, and nearly one in three admit to keeping a spare key hidden on their property in case this happens.

To find out more about the UK’s habits when it comes to house keys, we’ve carried out some research to reveal which UK cities are most likely to lock themselves out their home, who we call on when this happens, and the most common hiding spots to stow away a spare key.

We also share some tips on what to do if you get locked out of home, and why hiding a spare key on your property could actually invalidate your home insurance.

Over a third of UK residents lock themselves out at least once a year

According to our research, 38% of people get locked out of their home at least once a year, with nearly one in ten (8%) saying it happens three or four times annually.

With so many Brits admitting to getting locked out, it got us thinking, how many of us have a back-up plan in place to avoid this situation.

How many people keep a spare key on their property?

Hiding a spare key is a common method to avoid a lock-out mishap. In fact, we found that one in three (32%) people are likely to hide a spare key somewhere on their property.

Unfortunately, while hiding a spare key may seem like the best option to avoid getting locked out of your home, it usually isn’t the best solution from a safety standpoint. Leaving a spare set of keys in an obvious place around your property could not only increase your chances of being burgled, but may also invalidate your home insurance policy.

If you don’t keep a spare hidden somewhere, losing your main set of keys can be even more problematic. Our researched showed that in the event of getting locked out of their home, people are most likely to turn to their partners for a helping hand (24%) or their neighbours (12%).

Contact % who went to this contact first when getting locked out
Partner 24%
Neighbour 12%
Mother 10%
Other family member 9%
Friend 8%
Locksmith 7%

Which UK cities do people get locked out in the most?

Our research shows that residents of certain cities are more likely to be locked-out than others. Top of the list is London, where half (50%) of the population admit to have being locked out of their homes at some point. It's no surprise then that Londoners are also the most likely to hide a spare key on their property as a back-up, with 40% confessing to this tactic.

Following closely behind are residents of Edinburgh and Southampton, with 43% and 41% of their populations - respectively - having been locked out before. Meanwhile, Birmingham (39%) and Belfast (38%) residents followed Londoners as the most likely to hide a spare key on their property.

The top five cities with the highest percentage of residents who have been locked out at least once per year:

Rank City % of residents who have been locked out
1 London 50%
2 Edinburgh 43%
=3 Southampton 41%
=3 Liverpool 41%
4 Birmingham 38%

The top five cities with the highest percentage of residents most likely to hide a spare key:

Rank City % of residents most likely to hide a spare key
1 London 40%
2 Birmingham 39%
3 Belfast 38%
4 Brighton 33%
5 Bristol 32%

Where are the most common places to hide a spare key?

With 32% of people admitting to hiding a spare key on their property, we found the majority of people choose to hide it inside a key safe or lockbox (33%). Although this can offer a reliable storage solution for spare keys, your home insurance provider may require you to install it a certain way to avoid invalidating your policy, so it’s important to check requirements to ensure you’re fully covered.

Rank Location Percentage
1 Inside a key safe or lockbox 33%
2 Under a doormat 10%
3 Under an ornament (e.g. garden statue) 9%
4 In/under a flower or plant pot 8%
5 Behind/inside/under a loose brick 7%

How can home insurance help if you lose your house key?

Getting locked out can be costly – and could even lead to home damage if you try to break doors or windows to get inside. So here are some steps to ensure your home stays safe and protected in the event you get locked out.

  • Change your locks as soon as possible. This will keep your home secure if your keys are lost or stolen, and make sure your home insurance remains valid. Some home insurance policies offer cover for replacement locks if keys are lost, so it’s worth checking what level of cover you have with your provider if you do need to change the locks.
  • Invest in home emergency cover. This may entitle you to locksmith services if you’re locked out. Your insurance provider may even be able to contact a locksmith on your behalf.
  • Be wary of hiding a spare key. Leaving a spare set of keys in an obvious place around your property is an open invitation for burglars and could invalidate your home insurance policy. If you want to hide a spare key, do so safely by investing in a lock box that has certifications to meets your insurance providers standards.

Sources and methodology

All data is taken from a survey of 2,000 UK Adult Consumers (18+), conducted in December 2022.