Can a tenant change the locks if management has come into their unit unannounced multiple times?

UPDATED: May 30, 2012

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Can a tenant change the locks if management has come into their unit unannounced multiple times?

The management company is requesting to enter the apartment with less than 24 hours notice and requesting that the door key is provided. However, the said company has given the apartment key to multiple non-maintenance workers and/or office workers (private contractors) with accompanying them while I was inside after the second or third time I changed the locks. It is in the leasing agreement but they also have no addressed the problem of random people having our key and walking in unannounced.

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, the tenant may not change the locks when managment comes into the unit with insufficient notice. The apartment belongs to the landlord, and the landlord has undisputed access rights; the tenant may not deprive the landlord (or its property manager) of the right to access the premises. If the tenant attempts to lock the landlord out, that could constitute grounds for eviction as well as for liability (e.g. for the cost to change the locks again).

If the landlord, its property manager, or its staff is improperly entering the  premises, the tenant has several options:

1) Sue the landlord for a court order (injunction) barring them from entering except under designated circumstances (e.g. for emergencies; on 24 hours+ notice) and also restricting who among their staff  have keys.

2) Hold the landlord liable for any losses from unauthorized access (e.g. if anything is broken, stolen, etc.).

3) Terminate the lease without penalty if there is are recurrent unlawful entrances, on grounds of violation of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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