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A landlord's duty to change the lock

According to Illinois state law, any landlord who leases a unit for occupation is required to change or rekey the lock on the unit as soon as there is a change of occupancy. After an old renter has left the unit, the landlord must change the lock on the dwelling before a new renter moves in or on the day that the new renter moves in.

Changing the unit lock could be done by completely replacing the lock, replacing the mechanism in the lock so that it fits a different key or changing the combination for a digital lock. A landlord could also change an electronic lock by altering the method for unlocking it. Whichever way the landlord chooses to change the lock must ensure that the new tenant's means of gaining entry to the rental unit are different from the means that the prior tenant used.

A landlord who fails to change the lock on their rental unit may be found guilty of maintaining a dangerous property. If a theft takes place that was the direct result of the landlord's failure to change the lock, the landlord would be responsible for compensating the tenant for any damages that were incurred as a result.

An attorney may be able to help a tenant to pursue compensation for a theft that took place in their rental unit because of landlord negligence. If the tenant feels unsafe occupying the residence following the theft, an attorney may also be able to help the tenant to terminate a lease agreement. In some cases, a tenant may wish to have help obtaining the right to rekey or change the lock on their rental unit personally.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "(765 ILCS 705/) Landlord and Tenant Act.", October 13, 2014

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