An affected person may need to get the locks changed to ensure that they are secure and safe in their rented home.

Do you need the landlord’s consent?

The affected person can change external door or window locks without the landlord’s consent if:

  • they have a family violence safety notice or intervention order that excludes a tenant from the address, or
  • the affected person’s name is on the lease (and the perpetrator is not on the lease), and the locks are not part of a master key system (one master key that opens many locks). If you’re not sure if there’s a master key system, it’s best to check with the landlord or agent before you change the locks.

The affected person must get the landlord’s consent before they:

  • change locks that are part of a master key system (one master key that opens many locks) if they do not have a safety notice or intervention order, or if the safety notice or intervention order does not exclude a tenant from the address; or
  • add any other safety features, such as deadlocks, security screens, sensor lights or alarms. The landlord’s consent should be in writing and it should be clear that the protected person does not have to remove the safety features when they leave, otherwise the protected person may have to pay to have the safety features removed when they leave.

What if the affected person is not on the lease?

If the affected person has a family violence safety notice or an interim or final intervention order that excludes a tenant from the address and they consider the rented housing their main home, they can get the locks changed even if their name is not on the lease.

Who gets the new keys?

Landlord or agent:

  • If the affected person changes the locks, they must give a copy of the new keys to the landlord or agent as soon as possible.

Tenants:

  • If the affected person changes the locks, they must give a copy of the new keys to the other tenants as soon as possible.

Perpetrator:

  • If the perpetrator has been excluded from the property in a family violence safety notice or intervention order, the affected person does not have to give them a copy of the new keys even if the perpetrator’s name is on lease.
  • If the perpetrator’s name is on the lease and they are not excluded from the rental property by an intervention order or safety notice the affected person must give them a copy of the new keys.
  • If the perpetrator’s name is on the lease and they are no longer excluded from the rental property because an intervention order or safety notice has ended, the affected person must give them a copy of the new keys.
  • The landlord or agent must not give a key to the perpetrator if the affected person has given the landlord or agent a certified extract or a copy of a family violence safety notice or intervention order that excludes the perpetrator from that address.

Privacy regarding the intervention order or safety notice

  • The landlord must not give a copy of the intervention order or safety notice to anyone except the landlord’s agent or legal representative.
  • The landlord’s agent must not give a copy of the intervention order or safety notice to anyone except the landlord or landlord’s legal representative.

Paying for the new locks

If the affected person lives in public housing, DHHS might pay for the locks to be changed. See Changing the locks [public housing].

The law

Locks: Section 70, Residential Tenancies Act 1997 [AustLII website].
Locks and intervention orders: Section 70A, Residential Tenancies Act 1997 [AustLII website].

This information is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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