If commercial tenants refuse to pay rent, can I change the locks?

UPDATED: Dec 19, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Dec 19, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If commercial tenants refuse to pay rent, can I change the locks?

We have a lease for a space and rent it out for parties every day of the week. About 2 years ago, a tenant wanted to rent every Th, Fri, and Sat. We had a signed agreement on the amount they had to pay prior to each weekend which expired a year ago. Since then, they continued to pay weekly. Now they refuse to pay. Since they do not occupy the whole week. Can we change the locks? They are violating numerous health and liquor laws during their parties. Does that make any difference? If we can’t lock them out, would there be any problem with taking out furniture/decorations/etc?

Asked on December 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You have a lease, it is just not a written one. You should give them a 30 day notice period and indicate that they have a certain amount of time to move their things out. If you know they are violating local and state laws and regulations or ordinances, then you may be held to be equally negligent (read liable) if anything should occur. Ultimately, you can report them to the health inspector and of course the liquor board or investigators but changing the locks will only serve to aggrevate the situation not make it better. You need to simply follow the book and not try to shorten the time and risk having it tied up in legal battle for longer.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption