My rental property is missing a door lock. Should my landlord install one for me, or can I arrange this myself and ask for reimbursement?

In the unlikely event that you move into a rental property and find there’s no lock on an entry or exit door, you are within your rights to install a basic lock and seek reimbursement from the property owner. 

The first point of call should always be to contact the property owner/landlord immediately, whether that’s direct or through your property manager.

As a tenant in New South Wales specifically, your landlord agrees to provide and maintain locks or other security devices necessary to keep the property ‘reasonably’ secure.

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What does ‘reasonable’ security cover?

The law does not clearly define what ‘reasonable’ security means. In NSW, the Tribunal will decide this on a case by case basis. 

In the Sydney metropolitan area, for example, reasonably secure could mean double cylinder deadlocks on the main doors and locks on the windows.

In the inner city, reasonably secure could also mean bars on ground-floor windows. In a rural area, this would be unlikely. 

What do you do if you believe the locks/security is inadequate?

If you believe the locks/security on your rental property are inadequate, write to your landlord/agent and ask that they install the required locks/devices.

In the event your landlord/agent does not install the locks/devices as requested, they may be in breach of their obligation to provide ‘reasonable’ security.

Apply to the Tribunal for an order about:

Making the property reasonably secure

You can apply for an order that your landlord installs locks or security devices to make the property reasonably secure. You must apply for this order within 3 months after you become aware that the premises are not reasonably secure. 

Things to remember:

  • Take information from an insurance company or the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research on the risk of break-ins in your suburb.
  • You should also bring letters you’ve sent to the landlord or a record of conversations in which you asked for better security
  • Bring photographs of broken locks or windows, as well as evidence of previous break-ins.

Compensation for loss arising from insecure premises

If you suffered loss or damage to your goods because the property was not reasonably secure, you can apply for an order that the landlord compensates you. You must apply within 3 months after you become aware of the loss or damage.

Things to remember:

  • You need to show you told the landlord about your problem, or that they otherwise knew about it, and that the landlord failed to provide or maintain the necessary locks/devices for reasonable security.
  • At the Tribunal, you will need to provide a list of the stolen or damaged goods, and the value of the goods when they were lost/damaged.

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Rent reduction for the time that the premises were not reasonably secure

You can apply for an order that the rent is or was excessive for the time that the property was not reasonably secure.

If the Tribunal finds the rent excessive, it will make an excessive rent order. This order will specify the amount that the rent must not exceed, as well as the day from which this maximum rent applies, for a period of up to 12 months.