Locks and Keys

The Basics

You should 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 the previous tenants no longer have access to the rental unit, you have the right to ask your landlord to rekey the locks, free of charge. See TRAC’s template letter, Locks to be Rekeyed. If you are moving in with other co-tenants listed on the tenancy agreement, each person has the right to receive their own set of keys.

Your landlord must also provide you and any co-tenants with keys or access devices to other parts of the rental property that are included as part of your tenancy. For example, you might have your own secured storage area or mailbox, or your building might offer common areas, such as a gym or laundry room.



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

Landlords must follow strict rules when wanting to enter a tenant’s rental unit. See TRAC’s webpage, Quiet Enjoyment, for more information.



Ending a Tenancy


Returning Keys

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


Illegal Lockouts

See TRAC’s webpage, Evictions / Illegal Lockouts, 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