This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?
It is the responsibility of the landlord to supply and maintain the locks (or other security devices) to ensure that the rented premises is reasonably secure. This means that the landlord must hand over the rented premises to the tenant in a secure state, and if notified that it has become insecure, performs maintenance to rectify that problem.
Ensuring that the premises is secure is one of the most important parts of a tenancy. Tenants should feel safe living in the rented premises and are entitled to a minimum level of security. It is in the interests of the landlord also for the premises to be safe and secure. If the tenant suffers loss or damage to their belongings because the landlord did not provide a secure premises, then the landlord may be held liable.
There is no set standard for when a premises is considered ‘reasonably secure’. Ultimately, what is ‘reasonably secure’ will depend on the nature of the premises and its surroundings. There are a number of things that landlords can do however, that may help to make the premises at least reasonably secure:
In share accommodation situations, it may be necessary to have locks on both the external doors to the premises and the internal doors for each tenant’s bedroom. The landlord should consider the relevant degree of security that is required for each lock.
The landlord must give a copy of the key (or other opening device) to each tenant listed in the tenancy agreement. Therefore, if there are multiple co-tenants under one tenancy agreement, then each tenant should be given a copy of the keys (or other opening device) by the landlord.
It is important to remember that different parts of the premises may have different keys. The tenant is entitled to keys that:
The tenant should be given keys (or other opening device) that allows them access to both the areas that they occupy exclusively and to any common or shared areas. Therefore, in share accommodation situations, the tenant should have keys (or similar) giving them access to their room and to shared facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen.
The locks to the rented premises may only be changed by either the landlord or tenant under a limited number of circumstances. These circumstances are:
Reasonable Excuse - the locks can be changed by the tenant or landlord with the agreement of the other party if they have a reasonable excuse. An emergency is a reasonable excuse. Either the landlord or tenant can also apply to the Tribunal for an order that the locks be changed. There is no limit to reasons why the Tribunal may order the locks to be changed, but may include:
Ultimately, the locks should generally only be changed when the landlord and tenant agree. The locks should only be changed without agreement if there is a very good reason, especially an urgent reason, to do so.
When the locks have been changed, the party that has changed them must give the other party the new keys as soon as possible. The other party does not need to be given a key, however, if the Tribunal orders that or the other party agrees not to be given one.
These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.