When landlords should change their locks

when should landlords change the locks

To stay legal and conform with an AST rental agreement landlords must make lock changes at the right time. A rental property is at a higher risk of a break in. There maybe multiple copies of keys for each lock. Its important to maintain security with quality locks and door fittings. However its illegal to change the locks to prevent a tenant from entering a rental property in the case of rent arrears or other breaches of contract and can deemed as harassment. If there are internal door locks on rooms, the property maybe classed as an HMO a house of multiple occupancy.


  • Tenants and landlords should sign agreements that ensure “habitability,” which includes provisions for locks.
  • The lease or rental agreement should list how many keys the landlord gave the renters when they moved in.
  • A landlord can lawfully hold a set of keys for example in the event of an emergency they may need to gain access to make a repair. More Landlords Guild post
  • A landlord must give 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access. More www.gov.uk/private-renting

Locks and keys in relation to rental property

Moving in

Even if tenants return all keys to the landlord, there’s no way of knowing if there are copies. The only way to ensure a rental is secure for the new tenants is by changing the locks.

Tenants should not expect the keys until their landlord has collected a deposit.

Since landlords are responsible for the security of the property, they should change the locks between every set of tenants.

Landlords can install “smart key” technology, allowing a re-key easily.

Tenant make copies of the key

Tenants should talk to the landlord first. It depends on the rental contract. If tenants make copies anyway, they are in breach of the contract.

Moving out

If a tenant move out, they should give  the landlord the exact keys they received during move-in.

Lock change by the tenant

The tenant has the right to change the locks unless it is prohibited in the Rental Contract. Landlords can ask the tenant to change the locks back.

Lock change by the landlord for no reason

Even if a tenant failed to pay rent or destroyed the property, landlords do not have the right to lock tenants out of their place of residence.

Changing the locks without a proper eviction procedure is illegal. Tenants can file a litigation case against the landlord, and they can be awarded a wide range of costs associated with the lock out. More: Guide to unlawful eviction and harassment (UK Gov)

In summary

Locks and keys are an important part of keeping a home safe. LBP are specialists in lock change for Landlords in Brighton with 100’s of good reviews. Please note this post is not written by a specialist property lawyer. You should not use this as a basis for a legal decision. We have researched the governments website on relevant issues and the Guild of Landlords for latest posts. Laws evolve and not every case is the same.

Author: Jon Robinson