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Can I change the locks?

Can I change the locks?

Tuesday 30th of June 2020
By: Alisha Edwards, Senior Associate, Coote Family Lawyers

You have made a very positive emotional, psychological and financial impact which I am extremely grateful for

My partner has left, can I change the locks?

When parties decide to physically separate, the person remaining in what was the “family home” may, for varying reasons, wish to change the locks. So, is it legal to do so without your former partner’s consent?

The short answer is yes.

Even if a property is registered in joint names, it is not illegal for one party to change the locks without the consent of the other party (unless there is a Court Order preventing you from doing so).

Generally, the Court considers that individuals are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their home. This means that if you are living in a property, you are entitled to feel safe and to enjoy a degree of privacy. Sometimes, and particularly after a separation, this can only be achieved by changing the locks to prevent your former partner from entering the property without your knowledge or consent.

If the property is registered in joint names and you change the locks, in the absence of an Court Order, the law does not prevent the other from re-changing the locks, or gaining access to the property in some other way (such as through a window). However, if this occurs, we recommend you speak with the Police or obtain legal advice as to your options.

Obviously, in some circumstances, changing the locks to a property can heighten conflict between parties. In other situations, it is entirely necessary to ensure the safety of one party or their children. 

If you and your partner have separated and you are considering changing the locks to your home, we recommend you speak to one of our solicitors about the advantages and disadvantages to you of doing so. Please contact our team of top family lawyers in Melbourne on (03) 9804 0035.

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