My tenant has changed the locks on my property and not given me a key. Is this allowed?

Question

My tenant has just informed me that they have changed the locks on my property. Are they allowed to do this, and can I demand to have a key?

Answer

Ah, this is a tricky situation!

Most tenancy agreements now cover this issue with a caveat stating that tenants are not legally allowed to tamper with locks on a property unless expressly allowed by the landlord. However, if you do not have this clause included in your tenancy agreement you are in a slightly sticky situation.

Whilst a tenant is in situ in a property, unless it is expressly covered in the tenancy agreement, your tenant does have the right to change the locks, and unfortunately they have no legal obligation to notify you of this, or provide you with a key to the property.

They do legally still have to allow you planned access to the property (for planned maintenance etc), but it is your tenant’s right to ‘live in quiet enjoyment’ and use the property as their home, which doesn’t include furnishing you with a key.

However, do make sure that you check your tenancy agreement carefully. If it does in fact mention that your tenant isn’t allowed to tamper with locks, they are in breach of this important legal document. Of course, there is very little you can do about it if they have already made the change, but it is something you should note down – you should be able to claim the price of replacement locks when it comes to settling their deposit.

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