Changing the Locks

Changing Door Locks… Be Careful!

The landlord or the agent may change the door locks when the tenant’s rents are delinquent, but must give written notice by posting it on the front  door of the rented premises. In the case of a residential tenancy, the notice must state (1) an on-site location where the tenant may go 24 hours a day to obtain the new key or a telephone number that is answered 24 hours a day that the tenant may call to have a key delivered  within two hours after calling the number; (2) the fact that the landlord must provide the new key to the tenant at any hour, regardless of whether or not the tenant pays any of the delinquent rent; and (3) the amount of rent and other charges for which the tenant is delinquent. The requirements relating to changing locks on residences may still apply in the case of a space leased for both residential and business purposes, and despite the fact that the occupant has a homestead elsewhere.

In the case of a commercial tenancy, the notice must state the name and address or telephone number of the individual or company where the  new key may be obtained. The new key must be provided only during the tenant’s regular business hours, and only if the tenant pays the delinquent rent.

A residential landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises by changing the locks unless the tenant is delinquent in paying all or part of the rent. Additionally, the landlord must give proper notice, locally mailing the notice not later than the fifth  calendar day before the locks are changed. The notice may also be hand-delivered to the tenant or posted on the inside of the main entry door of the tenant’s dwelling not later than the third calendar day before the lock changing date. The notice must specify the earliest date that the landlord proposes to change the door locks, the amount of rent the tenant must pay to prevent changing of the door locks, and give the name and street address of  the individual to whom, or the location of the on-site management office at which the delinquent rent may be paid during the landlord’s normal business hours.

Furthermore, a landlord may not change the locks on the door of a tenant’s  dwelling on a day, or on a day immediately before a day, on which the landlord or other designated individual is not available, or on which any on-site management office is not open, for the tenant to tender the delinquent rent. A landlord who makes use of the right to change locks must still provide the tenant with a key to the changed lock on the dwelling without regard to whether the tenant pays the delinquent rent. If a landlord arrives at the dwelling in a timely manner in response to a tenant’s telephone call, and the tenant is not present to receive the key to the changed lock, the landlord must leave a notice on the front door of the dwelling stating the time the landlord arrived with the key and the street address to which the tenant may go to obtain the key during the landlord’s normal office hours.

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