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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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