External doors and windows in a rental property must be able to be locked or secured.
Each renter whose name is on the rental agreement (lease) must be given a copy of a key or security device for free. A rental provider may charge a renter a reasonable fee for any additional keys or security device requested. These requirements also apply for caravan and residential park residents.
If the locks are changed, new keys must immediately be given to the rental provider or renter.
There are special rules about changing the locks in family violence situations.
On this page:
Other pages have information about rental minimum standards, repairs and changing the locks because of family violence.
External doors and windows
A rental provider must make sure that each external door of the rental property has a working deadlatch with at least one cylinder. A deadlatch is a type of lock that can automatically lock when you close the door.
A deadlatch is not necessarily a lock that always needs a key to be opened from the inside. In fact, these types of locks are not recommended.
The only cases where a deadlatch doesn’t have to be fitted to an external door are when:
- a door can’t be secured with a deadlatch
- it’s a screen door in the same door frame as an external door that has its own deadlatch
- a different type of lock or device is required under another Act or law
- the door isn’t directly accessible because of another type of security barrier, such as a locked door to an apartment building, or a locked gate
- the door is a public lobby door that opens to common property
- the property is a registered place and a request for a permit to comply with this standard has been refused under the Heritage Act 2017.
All external doors that can’t be secured with a functioning deadlatch must at least be fitted with a locking device that:
- is operated by a key from the outside, and
- may be unlocked from the inside with or without a key.
A rental provider must make sure all external windows of the rental property that can be opened have a working lock. If there are no locks, the window must have a latch to secure against external entry.
These requirements for doors and windows are part of the rental minimum standards.
Copies of keys
The rental provider can keep copies of all keys. Renters should check that the rental provider has a spare set of keys when they sign the rental agreement (lease).
The rental provider must give each person on the rental agreement a free set of keys when they move in. This also applies to security devices such as swipe cards. If the renter needs both a key and another security device to get into the property, both have to be supplied free of charge.
If the renter asks for another key or security device, the rental provider can charge a reasonable fee. A reasonable fee means a fee that most people would think is fair.
These laws also apply to caravan and residential park residents. These residents must also be given a free copy of the key or security device (or both) that gives them access to the park.
Renters must give all keys and devices back to the rental provider when they move out at the end of their agreement.
Security in rooming houses
A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms are available to rent, and four or more people in total can occupy those rooms.
Rooming house operators must take all reasonable steps to ensure a resident’s room is secure. Reasonable steps means steps that most people would think are fair and effective.
Rooming house operators must have a key to the room so they can access it when they need to do something required by law. If a resident changes the locks, they must give the operator a key. Read more about operator entry rights and obligations.
Changing the locks
If the rental provider changes a lock, new keys must be given to the renter as soon as possible. Likewise, if the renter changes a lock, new keys must be given to the rental provider and other renters as soon as possible.
If the renter wants to change a lock at the property, they will be responsible for organising and paying for the change. But they must get the rental provider’s consent first.
The rental provider must have a good reason to say no – they can’t unreasonably withhold consent. If the rental provider does say no, and the renter believes they are being unfair, the renter can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to make a decision.
Changing the locks due to family violence
If you are experiencing family violence, or need to understand your responsibilities as a rental provider, you can read more general information about family violence when renting. We also have the following factsheets:
Renters who are experiencing family violence
If a renter is experiencing family violence, and they have a:
- family violence intervention order
- family violence safety notice
- personal safety intervention order,
- or a recognised non-local domestic violence order (DVO) which says that another person living at the rental property used violence and cannot enter the property
- they do not need permission from the rental provider or agent to change the external door or window locks (including a lock in a master key system). This is the case whether or not the renter’s name is on the rental agreement.
If the person who used violence is removed from the rental agreement, the remaining renters are allowed to change the locks. The rental provider or agent must not give the renter who used violence a new key to the property.
Once the locks have been changed, the renter must give:
- a key for any new lock to the rental provider or agent, and other renters (apart from the excluded renter)
- a copy of the family violence intervention order, family violence safety notice, recognised non-local DVO or a personal safety intervention order (or a certified extract) to the rental provider or agent. Once the rental provider or agent has a copy, they cannot give the excluded renter a key for any new lock. The rental provider or agent must keep the renter’s information private.
If you are a renter experiencing violence, be aware that if the safety notice or intervention order ends, you may have to give the excluded person a new key if they are still on the rental agreement. Read about changing the rental agreement because of family violence.
If the renter does not have a safety notice or intervention order excluding the person who used violence, and the rental agreement has not been changed to exclude them, the usual rules about changing the locks apply.
Renters who have been excluded due to family violence
If a renter has been excluded from the rental property by a:
- family violence intervention order
- family violence safety notice
- recognised non-local DVO, or
- a personal safety intervention order
- and the person who is protected by that order changes the locks, the excluded renter must not be given keys for the new locks by the rental provider, agent or other renters. This applies for as long as the notice or order is in effect.
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about providing security and changing locks, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:
- Section 54A – residential rental provider to give key or security device to renters
- Section 70 – locks
- Section 70A – locks for rented premises the subject of an intervention order
- Section 70B – locks for renters premises the subject of an order under section 91W
- Section 71 - application to change lock without consent
- Section 123 – security
- Section 161 – supply of key
- Section 206ZD – supply of key.