In any landlord-tenant relationship, there may be questions as to which party is responsible for certain maintenance items and which party has the right to make changes to the property.
When it comes to door locks, who maintains them, and who can change them, there is not always an easy answer. Regardless of who needs the services, lock changes should always be conducted by a qualified locksmith.
At the beginning of a new tenancy, while not required by Arizona law, most landlords will opt to change the locks. This is a basic security precaution and keeps former tenants from causing problems or damage for the landlord or new tenants.
However, once a lease is signed and a new tenant takes possession of a rental property, various laws apply that impact a party’s right to alter the locks. Landlords and tenants should look to their lease agreement to determine whether any special rights have been negotiated relating to the changing of locks.
Typically, a tenant will not have the right to change a lock on the property without the permission of the landlord, and unless specifically agreed to in the lease, the landlord has the right to have a copy of a key for any new locks, as the landlord may need to access the property for repairs, inspections and other reasons allowed under Arizona law.
If a lock becomes damaged, it will be necessary for the landlord to have a locksmith replace the lock. A residential landlord has a duty to keep the property in safe and habitable condition, which includes providing a working lock.
If the lock is damaged by the tenant’s negligent act, and not simple wear and tear, the landlord may be able to recover the cost of the locksmith’s services and the lock from the tenant or the tenant’s security deposit.
Arizona law does has special provisions for victims of domestic violence. If requested by a domestic violence victim, the residential landlord is required by state law to change the locks. However, the tenant bears the responsibility for the expense of the change in that situation.
Arizona does not allow residential landlords to perform “lock-outs” when tenants fail to pay rent. Essentially, if a renter does not pay the rent and refuses to leave the property, a landlord cannot hire a locksmith the change the locks and lock the tenant or tenants out.
The landlord must go through the legal eviction process and may even need to have law enforcement remove the tenant after going through the court procedure. Once the court has given possession of the property back to the landlord and the tenant is removed, the landlord may have the locks changed, even if the former tenant’s property is still on the premises.
For commercial landlord-tenant relationships, the rules are more lax, and unless specific provisions in the lease agreement state otherwise, the commercial landlord can lock a tenant out after rent is more than five days late.
Call a Phoenix Area Locksmith
Whether you are a landlord to multiple properties, or a tenant negotiating additional security with your landlord, call Pop-a-lock at 602-274-1432 or contact us online.
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