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?

An affected person does not need the landlord’s consent:

  • to change any external door or window lock if the lock is not part of a master key system (one master key that opens many locks).

An affected person does not need the landlord’s consent:

  • to change a lock that is part of a master key system if they have a family violence safety notice or intervention order, recognised non-local DVO or personal safety intervention order that excludes a tenant from the address.

Note: If an affected person is not sure if there’s a master key system, it’s best to check with the landlord or agent before changing the locks.

The affected person must get the landlord’s consent:

  • before they change a lock that is 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 recognised non-local DVO, or
    if the notice or order does not exclude the perpetrator from the address.

The affected person must get the landlord’s consent:

  • before they 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.

If the landlord unreasonably refuses to give their consent for the master lock to be changed, a tenant can apply to VCAT for an order that the consent of the landlord is not required.

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 or recognised non-local DVO 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 or recognised non-local DVO or personal safety 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].
Application to VCAT if landlord will not consent to changing locks: Section 71, 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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