LOCKS AND KEYS
Your landlord must provide you with keys to your unit when you move in. You have the right to request that the locks be re-keyed or changed, if this hasn’t been done already. Your landlord is not allowed to charge you a fee for this.
See TRAC’s template letter, Request for Locks to be Re-Keyed at Start of Tenancy.
Landlord changing locks
Your landlord should not change the locks at any time during the tenancy without your written consent. If your landlord has obtained permission to change the locks, they must give new keys free of charge to all tenants living in the unit.
Tenant changing locks
You are not allowed to change the locks without your landlord’s written consent, or an order from the Residential Tenancy Branch. If you go ahead and change the locks without permission, and your landlord needs to enter because of an emergency, they may break down your door and charge you for the cost of repairing it. Your landlord may also require that you pay for the cost of changing the locks back. If you refuse, they may apply for dispute resolution.
According to Section 33 of the Residential Tenancy Act, emergency repairs are:
- Necessary for health or safety of people or property
- Made for the purpose of repairing one of the following:
- major leaks in pipes or the roof
- damaged or blocked water or sewer pipes or plumbing fixtures
- the primary heating system
- damaged or defective locks that give access to a rental unit
- the electrical systems
See our page on Repairs and Maintenance for more information on your rights and responsibilities when your damaged locks are an emergency repair.
Landlord entering illegally
There are strict rules about when a landlord is allowed to enter your rental unit. In order to legally enter a rental unit, landlords must provide tenants with written notice no less than 24 hours, and no more than 30 days, before entering. This notice must state the:
- the time (between 8am and 9pm), and
- a reasonable reason for entry, such as carrying out a monthly inspection or making repairs.
If your landlord enters your unit illegally, you should request in writing that they follow the legal requirements. See TRAC’s template letter, Landlord’s Right to Enter a Rental Unit Restricted. If your landlord continues to enter your unit illegally, and you have enough evidence, you can apply for dispute resolution for an order allowing you to change the locks. You can also ask for monetary compensation for past illegal entries, and an order telling your landlord to follow the law in the future. See our page on Quiet Enjoyment for more information.
When you move out of your rental unit, you are required to return all keys, including any copies you made, to your landlord.
If your landlord has given you an eviction notice, they are never allowed to change the locks and lock you out without using a court appointed bailiff. See our page on Enforcing an Eviction for more information.