Renting or sharing a property can be great fun as well as a way to save money. However, sharing your living space with people can have its ups and downs and perhaps you want to have peace of mind by locking your bedroom door. But is it illegal to have key locks on bedroom doors?
In general, it is important to check with the landlord and research before putting a lock on a bedroom door. Some areas allow it, some rules prohibit it and some leases have specific clauses disallowing locks of any kind to be installed.
We’ll look at the specific reasons why key locks can be an issue and possible alternatives that you can use instead. As the rules around locks relate to the fire safety schemes, you may be totally prevented from having a lock on certain doors. Other styles of locks, like deadbolts or push button locks may be allowed.
Are There Laws In The US About Bedroom Door Locks?
The United States has a total of 50 jurisdictions plus federal laws and so you can be sure no matter the issue that the law will probably be different. It is always important to research what applies specifically in the place where you live.
This means also considering whether the building you’re living in has specific rules which you also must follow, for example in a co-op or per the lease you signed.
Generally, however, fire safety rules are going to be similar no matter the area you live in. These rules will generally require you to be able to open doors that are a means of egress (exit) without the use of a key. This means that if your bedroom is the only way to access the fire escape, then it cannot have a lock on it. Some jurisdictions allow a lock but it must be a push button lock and key locks are banned.
There are different variations on this rule. For example, you can have a deadbolt on the door to your place, but you must be able to open it from the inside without a key. This is so that if the person is in the room they can unlock it and allow their room to be used to egress via a window or similar, but it seems to me that if the door is locked, it is unlikely someone is going to be in the room.
Mostly you will have to look up what the residential or building codes are. These generally require you to remove any locks from doors, windows, or fire escapes that would impede an escape route in an emergency.
Some jurisdictions have specific rules about apartments, for example, if you do not have a kitchen or bathroom on that level, then it is not a legal, separate apartment. Putting or allowing key locks on those bedroom doors may create an illegal bifurcation within the property.
Can Your Landlord Forbid You To Put A Key Lock On Bedroom Doors?
A landlord does own the house and so can set certain rules. This is particularly the case for rules agreed to when you signed the lease, which may include provisions about the types of modifications a tenant can make, even specifically rules about locks and doors.
It may well be that a specific clause prevents you from putting any type of lock or making such a modification to the house without the landlord’s explicit written consent.
It will also depend heavily on the type of lease that you have. If you are sharing a house with several other people, the lease will be for the whole property and not necessarily allocate a room to each person, that is for the tenants to decide.
However, technically, while you may have a right to quiet enjoyment of the property, that only applies to the house as a whole, not to your specific room. This means that all the tenants on the lease have full access to each and every room in the house, despite what living arrangements you actually have. Thus you may not be able to put a lock on the room in this instance.
Most leases have a clause that enables a landlord to enter the property for set reasons. These include general maintenance, inspecting the property, or showing it to prospective tenants. To exercise these rights, most legal systems require ‘reasonable notice’ to be given by the landlord.
If the landlord cannot access certain rooms as they have locks installed by tenants, then the landlord likely has a strong case to get the locks removed because they can no longer enter the property without obstacle.
Can I Put A Lock On My Bedroom Door In An Apartment?
The rules generally don’t change much from houses to apartments in regards to locks. So it is important to not change the lock on your own – this could violate your lease agreement as most include a clause stating that the landlord can enter the property with cause (for example in an emergency). If you change the lock without your landlord knowing, you are inhibiting this right and will also likely annoy the landlord.
Some areas will allow tenants to change locks without notifying the landlord in certain circumstances. Contact your local renter’s rights group or research your state and local laws along with your lease agreement to what your rights are.
A house may have been built with a family in mind but eventually turned into an investment property to rent out, and so a landlord may have no issues with you installing certain locks for your safety and privacy. They will just want a copy of the key.