Can a tenant change the locks?

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Can a tenant change the locks?

I just bought a 2 flat and the tenant is on the first floor who moved in while the house was under contract with me. He was just on a month-to-month. They have been given a 30 day notice and now have changed the locks without letting me know.What can I do? Also, the gas,water and electricity is in my name, not the tenants, and I just received a disconnection notice on the gas and electricity. What happens if the gas and electricity get turned off? I need these people out now.

Asked on March 4, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) No, tenants may not change locks; or rather, they may sometimes be able to if necessary (e.g. a lock is broken and the landlord is not around to change it; or they gave the key to someone who lost or hasn't returned it) but they need to then give the landlord the new key; they can't exclude him.

2) If a month-to-month tenant does not leave after a 30-day notice, you may evict them through the courts; that is, however, the only way to get them out. Landlords are *not* allowed to turn off utilities or take other actions to force tenants out--doing so may subject the landlord to liability for improper eviction. So take them to court for eviction, but keep the utilities  on until they are gone.


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