If I am renting a room in the private residence of my former boyfriend and he will not provide me with a key to the front door, is this legal?

I am renting a room in the private residence of my former boyfriend. We have a verbal rental agreement that was made when we were still boyfriend/girlfriend. When we broke up, he changed the lock on the front door and will not provide me with a key of my own. I am asking this question today because I am not able to go to the home I pay rent on because he is not home and won’t be for several hours. I am stuck. Please tell me if what he is doing is legal. Also, he will not allow me to put a lock on my private bedroom door.

Asked on March 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) A landlord may not deny entrance to a tenant or lock the tenant out. Doing so is breach of the lease (whether it is an oral or written lease)--you are paying for the right to access and use the space. If your ex-boyfriend will not provide you with access, you could sue him for access as well as for monetary compensation.

2) He does not necessarily have to allow you to put a lock on your bedroom door; this depends on what was the understanding or agreement between the two of you when you rented the space.

3) Note that without a written lease, you are month to month tenant. That means that either you or the landlord could terminate the tenancy on 30 days notice. He could make you leave in a month; or you may decide that the best thing to do is to find another rental and give 30 days notice yourself.

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