Alexandria, VA asked in Landlord - Tenant for Virginia

Q: My landlord did not give house keys upon move in and will not until second month. Can I change the locks for my safety?

Me and my roommates moved in on Friday April 16. Our landlord has not given us house keys and says he will not until the second month. I’m not sure about the laws but I feel like that is illegal. Our lease says we cannot change the locks without permission from the landlord and he will not give it. Along with not having a key we also do not have air conditioning (in the middle of July in Virginia) as well as a major plumbing leak. Due to these issues my roommates and myself have not been sleeping in our house and have to leave it unlocked so we can get back in. So long story short will it be breaking my lease to change the locks?

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1 Lawyer Answer
F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Under the Virginia Code, the Landlord has a duty to maintain the premises in a fit condition. If there is no AC and there is a major plumbing leak, you should contact the Office of Housing Code Enforcement for the city/county in which the premises is located and make a formal complaint. An inspector should be sent to the premises to inspect the AC and plumbing issues. If the inspector determines that there are housing code violations, the inspector will issue a Notice of Violation and have it served on the Landlord for the repairs to be made. When the inspector comes to the premises, you should also explain the keys matter.

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