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in British Columbia            





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When moving in, the Landlord must provide each Tenant with a key to the building and/or rental unit at no cost.  If you are concerned that the lock wasn't changed prior to you moving in, you can request that the Landlord change the lock. See Locks and Access.

But whatever you do, the MOST IMPORTANT RULE is never change the locks, unless your Landlord says it's okay (get it in writing) or unless you've received an order by the Residential Tenancy Branch to do so. If you change the locks, this may be grounds for eviction.

The Rules

A Tenant must not change locks on their rental unit without the Landlordís written permission. A Tenant can also submit an application for dispute resolution asking for permission to change the locks.

If a Tenant has the only keys to a rental unit and an emergency occurs when the Tenant is not available to open the door, the door can be removed by emergency personnel or the landlord, possibly at the Tenantís cost.

When a Tenant changes the locks without proper approval, the Landlord can give written notice that the Tenant has contravened the law and must correct the situation within a specific, but reasonable period. The Tenant must change the locks back and pay for the work done or give the Landlord keys to the new locks. If the original lock was keyed to a master key, the Tenant may need to restore the original lock. If the Tenant does not do so, the Landlord can give the tenant a One-Month Notice to End Tenancy.


Arbitrated Decisions Regarding Locks

Decision: Tenant applies to change the locks

Decision: Tenant applies for an order for the Landlord to change the locks

Decision: Tenant changes the lock and does not give the Landlord a key (1)

Decision: Tenant changes the lock and does not give the Landlord a key (2)

Read more decisions at: www.rto.gov.bc.ca

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