Factsheet 07: Locks and security
As a tenant you have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010. This factsheet explains the law in NSW about security of rented premises.
Under the terms of the standard residential tenancy agreement, you agree:
The landlord agrees:
Reasonable excuses for altering, removing or adding a lock/security device include:
A copy of a changed key or other opening device need not be given to the other party if:
It is an offence for you or the landlord/agent to alter, remove or add a lock or security device:
If the landlord/agent changes locks, you can complain to NSW Fair Trading. See Complaining to NSW Fair Trading (www.tenants.org.au/complaining-to-nsw-fair-trading) and get advice from your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.
The law does not say what 'reasonable' security means. NCAT decides this on a case-by-case basis (see 'Applying to the tribunal for orders' below).
In the Sydney metropolitan area, it could mean double-cylinder deadlocks on the main doors and locks on the windows. In the inner city, it could also mean bars on ground-floor windows but in a rural area, this is unlikely.
If you believe the locks and security are inadequate:
If the landlord/agent does not install the locks/devices as requested, they may be in breach of their obligation to provide 'reasonable' security.
You can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for orders about:
Contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for advice about making an application.
You can apply for an order that the landlord install locks or security devices to make the premises reasonably secure.
You must apply within 3 months after you become aware that the premises are not reasonably secure.
When deciding whether the premises are reasonably secure, the tribunal will consider:
Take the following types of evidence to the tribunal:
You can apply for an order that the landlord compensate you for loss of or damage to your goods because the premises were not reasonably secure
You must apply within 3 months after you become aware of the loss or damage.
You will need to show that:
At the tribunal, provide a list of:
The tribunal may not order compensation if you did not try to limit your losses (e.g. you boarded up broken windows and otherwise secured your valuables).
The tribunal can order up to $15,000 compensation.
You can apply for an order that the rent is or was excessive for the time that the premises are not reasonably secure.
You must apply during the tenancy.
If the tribunal finds the rent excessive, it will make an excessive rent order. The order will specify:
See Factsheet 04: Rent increases for how to make an excessive rent case.
You can apply for these orders at any time during the tenancy:
You must explain to the tribunal why the order is necessary.
Note that the landlord can also apply for such orders – that they may change locks, that they may refuse you a key, that you must give them a key.
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The information in this factsheet:
• is intended as guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice
• applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia.
© Tenants' Union of NSW