Locks and Keys

The Basics

You have the right to feel safe and secure in your home at all times. Regardless the stage of your tenancy, your landlord must follow the rules in the Residential Tenancy Act regarding locks and keys.



Starting a Tenancy

To ensure that previous tenants no longer have access to your rental unit, ask your landlord to provide you with a new set of keys. Your landlord cannot charge you a fee for re-keying the locks at the start of your tenancy. See TRAC’s template letter, Locks to be Rekeyed.



During a Tenancy



Your landlord may charge you refundable or non-refundable fees for additional or replacement keys. See TRAC’s webpage, Fees, for more information.


Damaged Locks

Damaged locks might fit the definition of an “emergency repair” under section 33 of the Residential Tenancy Act. See TRAC’s webpage, Repairs and Maintenance, for more information.


Landlord Entry

There are strict rules that your landlord must follow when they want to enter your rental unit. See TRAC’s webpage, Quiet Enjoyment, for more information.



Ending a Tenancy


Returning Keys

When you move out of your rental unit, you are required to return your keys, including any copies, to your landlord.


Illegal Lockouts

An illegal lockout could mean that you are without access to money, medication, work tools, and personal identification. If your landlord locks you out of your rental unit, contact TRAC, the RTB, a legal advocate, or a lawyer immediately. If your landlord continues to deny you access to your home, you will have to apply for dispute resolution to ask for an Order of Possession and monetary compensation. The Residential Tenancy Branch considers illegal lockouts a top priority when scheduling hearings.

Even if your landlord has obtained a RTB Order of Possession, they are still not allowed to change your locks or physically remove you and your possessions. See TRAC’s webapge, Enforcing an Eviction, for more information.



Previous Legal Decisions


  • Tenant evicted for changing locks
  • Landlord improperly changing locks can be an illegal eviction
  • Tenant attempting to return keys negated landlord’s monetary claim to pay for new locks