Can I change the lock on my home once a tenant unexpectedly vacates?

I own a condo and rented a room month-to-month to a tenant. Upon moving in she gave me last and first month’s rent. She unexpectedly moved out this weekend and just sent me her notice via mail requesting me to pay her back the last months rent for next month. The lease clearly states that she requires her to give me a 30 day notice before vacating so I will not be giving her money back. My question is whether or not I am allowed to change the lock on my condo to protect the safety of my home and my possessions. She still has the key with her and said she will not give it back until I give her last months rent back. All of her possessions have been moved out of the unit and in her mail she said she moved out effective 2 days ago.

Asked on February 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you have received written notice from your former tenant that she has actually vacated for good the rental that you have, you are entitled as the property owner to change the locks to the unit that you were renting to her.

Make sure you keep in a safe place the written notice sent you by your former tenant that she has vacated the rental.

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