Can Tenants Change the Locks Without Landlord Permission?

  • September 28 2023
Can Tenants Change the Locks?

Safe Home, Sweet Home!

That's the feeling every tenant seeks when moving into a new rental property. But what happens when you start feeling a bit uneasy about your home's security?  

Can you just go ahead and change the locks to ease your mind, or do you need your landlord's blessing? Let's unravel the mystery of changing locks as a tenant.

But first, let’s have a look at…

Reasons Why Tenants Want to Change Their Locks

lock change by tenants 
Approximately 85% of the population in the UAE consists of expatriates, and a significant portion of them are tenants. This reflects the transient nature of the expat community in the country—contributing to several reasons to change the locks, such as:

Enhanced Security

The most common reason tenants seek lock changes is to bolster security. They want to ensure that they are the sole keyholders, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Previous Tenants' Access

Concerns about prior tenants or unauthorized individuals retaining access to the property can prompt lock changes. This precautionary measure prevents potential breaches of privacy or security.

Lost or Stolen Keys  

lost house keys 
If tenants misplace their keys or suspect they were stolen, changing locks becomes a prudent step to prevent potential break-ins.

Related: Tenants' Legal Rights to Privacy: Understanding the Boundaries & Protections

Domestic Disputes

In case of domestic disputes, tenants may want to change locks to keep an estranged partner or spouse from entering the property.

Landlord Access Control

Some tenants seek lock changes to exercise more control over when and who can access their rental unit, allowing them to grant or deny entry to service providers or landlords as they see fit.

Non-Responsive Landlords

In situations where landlords are slow to address tenant requests for lock changes, tenants may take matters into their own hands to ensure their security.

General Wear and Tear

damaged locks
Over time, locks may become worn or malfunction, making it difficult to secure the property effectively. Tenants may request lock changes to maintain the integrity of their security measures.

Read also: What Is a Sitting Tenant and What Are Their Rights?

The Legal Landscape

In most places in the UAE, tenants are not allowed to change locks without obtaining permission from their landlord. This is primarily for two reasons:

- Safety Concerns: Landlords have a vested interest in ensuring the safety and security of their property. By requiring tenants to seek permission for lock changes, they can maintain oversight and control over who has access to the premises.

- Access for Emergencies: Landlords may need access to the property for maintenance or emergencies. If locks are changed without their knowledge, it can complicate these situations.

But here’s a catch…

Tenants are permitted to change locks, but they typically must provide the landlord with a copy of the new key or access code. This requirement ensures that landlords can still access the property for maintenance and emergencies.  

It's crucial for both tenants and landlords to familiarize themselves with the legal setting in their area, consult lease agreements, and open lines of communication to strike a balance between tenant security and property owner access.  

Read also: What Do Landlords Look for In a Tenant?

Tenants Changing the Locks: When Is It Allowed?

tenants changing the lock  

The jurisdiction in UAE has specific rules about when tenants can change locks without permission. For instance, if you have a suitable reason that your safety is at risk due to a broken or easily compromised lock, you might be allowed to make the change. However, you should always check the tenancy laws in UAE for clarity.



Do landlords have to change locks between tenants?

While switching locks between tenants isn't always required by law, it's frequently a sensible security precaution. To protect the security of the new renter and the property, many landlords decide to change the locks or rekey them.

Can a landlord change the locks without notifying the tenant?

In the majority of places, landlords are required by law to give renters advance notice before replacing locks. Unannounced lock changes might violate tenant rights and lease agreements and subject the landlord to legal repercussions. When considering lock changes, always abide by local regulations and lease terms.

Why tenants are not allowed (usually) to change the locks?

In order to retain property access for emergencies and repairs, landlords often forbid renters from changing locks. It safeguards both parties' interests and assures adherence to safety regulations and leasing agreements.

What should I do if my landlord refuses to change the locks for security reasons?

If your landlord refuses to change the locks despite valid security worries, make a note of the situation and contact your neighborhood's housing or tenant rights office. In compliance with pertinent rules and regulations, they can offer advice and even mediate a resolution.

What rights do tenants have if they believe their landlord is jeopardizing their security?

Tenants are entitled to a secure living space. Depending on the severity of the matter and local legislation, if security is compromised as a result of landlord negligence, they may want to consider withholding rent until the issue is remedied, contact the local housing authorities, or seek legal counsel.

Are there any security measures tenants can take if they're unable to change the locks in their rental unit?

With the landlord's permission, tenants can increase security by taking steps like strengthening windows, setting up security cameras, and utilizing door jammers or additional locks. To keep a cooperative relationship, it's also a good idea to consult the landlord about other security options.

How can I document and communicate security concerns to my landlord effectively?

Write down any security concerns, along with the date, a description, and any relevant incidents. Send a formal letter or email to your landlord introducing this paperwork. To facilitate clear communication and resolution, request a meeting to go over your problems and potential solutions.

Are tenants required to give their landlord a key to their changed locks?

Local laws on this can differ. For emergency access, tenants may frequently be forced to give landlords a duplicate of any new or updated keys or lock codes. For further information on your individual responsibilities, check UAE laws and your lease agreement.

The Bottom Line

door lock change
While the desire for a safe and secure home is understandable, it's essential to follow the proper procedures when considering a lock change in a rental property.  

Communication with your landlord is key. Remember, in most cases, it's a matter of working together to ensure both your security and the landlord's peace of mind.

So, looking for your dream rental property in the UAE? We've got you covered! Contact us today to explore a wide range of rental options that suit your needs and preferences.  

Our expert team is here to assist you every step of the way. Don't miss out on your ideal home – reach out to us now and let's find the perfect rental property for you!