Can a Landlord Change the Locks?

Georgie Kenny
By Georgie Kenny
Feb 20, 2021
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Landlord changing the locks
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There are a fair few do’s and don’ts when it comes to being a landlord, including knowing the rights you have with your property. 

Changing the locks is one of the situations that may arise if a landlord-tenant relationship goes sour. 

We’ve put this handy guide together detailing everything you need to know about changing the locks on your tenanted rental property. 

So, do landlords have the right to change the locks?

In short, no. It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks in order to keep a tenant out of the property. 

It is vitally important that landlords follow all the correct legal procedures in order to evict their tenant if that is what they want to do. 

This still applies even if you have served your tenant with an eviction notice. 

What can a tenant do if a landlord illegally changed the locks?

If a tenant is prevented from entering their home or a part of their home, they should contact the local council’s housing department or homelessness department as soon as possible. 

If you do not have a place to stay, go to the council building immediately with ID and ask for help. 

If you believe you were unfairly evicted or the correct channels had not been taken before the locks were changed, contact a housing lawyer. 

Tenants who have low incomes may be eligible for housing legal aid, which makes contacting a lawyer accessible to more people. 

Key cylinder

How can a landlord legally evict a tenant?

A landlord can legally evict a tenant if they serve them with a Section 8 notice. This is under the Housing Act of 1988 and applies if a tenant has broken their tenancy agreement. 

They can also be served with a Section 21, which asks them to vacate the property.

When is it legal to change the locks?

There are certain times when a landlord can legally change the locks. 

For example, if the landlord has followed all the correct avenues to evict a tenant, but the tenant will not leave the property, a landlord is able to change the locks. This is because once a tenant has been legally evicted, they are trespassing if they enter the property. 

So, in short, it is illegal (in most cases) for a landlord to change the locks of a property unless the tenant has already been legally evicted. 

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