Can I Change The Locks?

Are you concerned the locks weren’t changed when you moved in? Read this before you make a big mistake. 
rental unit locks and access

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. 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.

A tenant must not change locks on their rental unit without the landlord’s 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 tenant’s 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

Case: Tenant applies to change the locks

Decision: http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/decisions/2011/02/Decision1852_022011.pdf

Case: Tenant applies for an order for the landlord to change the locks

Decision: http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/decisions/2009/11/Decision1064_112009.pdf

Case: Tenant changes the lock and does not give the landlord a key (1)

Decision: http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/decisions/2011/01/Decision1079_012011.pdf

Case: Tenant changes the lock and does not give the landlord a key (2)

Decision: http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/rtb/decisions/2011/03/Decision1400_032011.pdf

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