I live in Connecticut. My lease says the landlord needs to be able to enter my apartment if there is an emergency. I changed my locks. Does that mean I need to give them a copy of the new key? If I don't, and they break the door down for an emergency I did not cause, am I liable for repairing the door?
State/Country relating to question: Connecticut
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A tenant is required to provide a landlord a key.
Failure to do so would be a breach of the lease.
That can result in eviction.
Yes, a landlord can enter without the key with a locksmith and pass on that cost to the tenant.
Does that make sense?
No, it does not. f they can enter with the help of a locksmith in an emergency, doesnt that imply they don't require a key? I mean, I understand I can be forced to pay for that locksmith, but then doesn't that circumstance remove the requirement for a key?
Does the lease address you changing the lock or making any modifications to the rental?
The lease says two things regrading this. The first says that the landlord will rekey when a new tennat moves in, and if the tenant asks the landlord for another rekeying the landlord must do it at the tenant's expense. It does not say the tenant is not allowed to rekey it on their own, however, merely that the landlord must do it if the tenant asks them to.
Ok. One second please.
The second, more relevant clause, speaks only about access to the unit. This wording references the Connecticut statute about access and says that statute is what applies. It says the landlord has the right to come in with reasonable notice at reasonable times, and with the tenant's permission, and the tenant may not unreasonably withold permission, to show the unit to prospective tenants or do requested repairs. The other situation they are allowed to enter at any time is in case of an emergency.
Does the lease address changes to the rental in general?
Other than that it says nothing about keys in the second clause.
I will check the lease. Please give me a moment to bring it up on my computer.
Let me know when your ready.
Yes, I see that we are not allowed to do alterations without their consent (including lock changes) unless statutoraly allowed. So I guess the question is whether a statute allows us to change the lock on our own?
No. Statutory law does not allow for lock changes.
This is a common issue. Landlords need access for emergency repairs such as water leaks, for example.
When tenants change a lock, the landlord will typically pursue an eviction for breach of a lease.
Do you mean that there is no statute addressing this, or there is a statute specifically prohibiting it?
Correct. No statute allows a tenant to change the locks on a rental.
But there is no statute prohibiting it either?
Where a lease prohibits, a tenant is not permitted to install their own locks. The exception would be if a statute said a tenant was explicitly authorized to install locks and no such law exists.
This is uniform in every state.
Do you understand?
I have to say it seems ambiguous to me. There are laws that say you can do X, and there are laws that say you cannot do Y. If you do something that is not addressed in the law, I would think it would fal under the banner of "allowed" because it is much easier to list all the things that cannot be done than to list al the things which can be done. For example, is there a law that says we are allowed to breathe? There are laws that say where we are not allowed to releive ourselves, but not a list of where we are allowed to relieve ourselves. So a lack of a statute saying we are not allowed to chang eour locks without landlord permission could be construed as a lack of a statute prohibiting it.
I appreciate your patience.
On this subject, the law authorizes the parties to a lease to agree to the terms in the lease.
This includes prohibitions of lock changes.
The starting point is the contractual agreement you enter. The lease states that lock changes are not allowed. Like any contract, when a party breaches a term they agreed upon then the non-breaching party has recourse via the courts.
With a lease, that recourse is an eviction suit.
The law does include a variety of limitations on both landlords and tenants. The lack of a law saying a tenant cannot alter the locks has no bearing. The tenant agreed not to change the lock in a lease. That lease is enforceable.
I hope that clarified. A tenant would not be successful in arguing that no law exists prohibiting them from changing their lock if the tenant were to face an eviction for breach of a lease. Remember, the tenant agreed not the change the lock in the lease.
Are you still with me?
The landlord owns the property including the lock. The tenant obtains a limited right to use the property in the tenancy.
A tenancy provides no inherent right to alter the rental property.
So, the starting point is the lease language.
"No ... rekeying ... is permitted ... unless statutoraly allowed." is the exact wording (the ... is for other things like waterbeds and such). I agreed to not change the lock if it was not statutoraly allowed, not "I agree to not change the lock period."
So the wording of the lease itself does not imply that phrase without the staturotaly part, I'd think.
Terms such as "statutorily allowed" only have a bearing of significance if there is a statute addressing the issue.
We discussed that there was not such a statute.
If no statute allows a tenant to change a lock, then a lease prohibition against the changing of a lock or rekeying would be enforceable.
OK. I recognize you're not the judge in the case, I'm just trying to see if one of the possible angles would perhaps be viewed favorably by a judge if it came to that.
So, if an eviction action were filed for changing a lock, the tenant's potential defenses would be permission from a landlord or a STATUTE allowing for the lock change. The question would then be can the tenant point to a statute allowing the tenant to change the lock.
A judge would require the party to provide the statutory citation.
If there is no statute in existence, the tenant would fail in their argument.
I hope that provides a general insight into how such matters are handled in court.
A tenant will want to speak with their landlord before changing the locks and if the landlord were to agree to deviation from lease requirements, the tenant would want to obtain a written statement from the landlord in that regard.
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I'm here, just away for a moment.
Thanks for your help.
No problem. This is a common question from tenants.
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Thank you again
I'm just thinking for a moment before signing off to be sure I don't have any other questions.
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OK, I remember now. It is a question that is also related to a lease but it is unrelated to this question, so I'll need to ask it separately so the cost is done correctly.
You can request me if you would like.
You would start your post with "For JohnJ"
Or JohnQ rather
Experience representing both landlords and tenants.
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