TenantsTips / Australia / Can I change the locks during my tenancy?

Can I change the locks during my tenancy?

There are rules about changing the locks in rented property so find out when and if you can change them

No one lock can be changed without permission from the other person (owner or tenant depending on who wants to change the locks).

Changing the locks unlawfully is a serious breach of tenancy law. Landlords, agents, or tenants who change locks unlawfully can be fined up to $4000.

Notice of Breach of the Tenancy Agreement

If you as the tenant was to change the locks unlawfully, then the owner may send you a Notice of Breach of Agreement, giving you 14 days to change the locks back or supply a key for the new lock.

Notice of Termination of the Tenancy Agreement

If the breach notice is not complied with within 14 days, the owner may seek an order from the court that you fix the problem or they may serve a Notice of Termination of the Agreement.

If the locks were changed unlawfully by the owner or agent without your (as tenant) permission or without an order from the court, but you are entitled to the property, then you can go back to the property.

The tenant may be able to get a locksmith to regain access to the property and to provide a key to the new locks that were unlawfully changed by the owner or agent.

Do not forget to keep receipts for any payments you make to the locksmith.

Also, you will need to make an urgent application to the Magistrates Court requesting an order that you be given keys to the premises so you can regain possession of the property.

You may also request an order to be compensated for any losses incurred by the lockout.

claim compensation

The tenant can claim compensation from the owner or the agent for the cost of entry and any expense incurred due to being locked out, for example alternative accommodation or locksmith fees.

The tenant should also make a complaint to the Department of Commerce, the this department will make an investigation of the unlawful lockout by the owner or the agent, and negotiate on your behalf with the owner or the agent for you to regain possession of the property.


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