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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Housing Laws

October 29, 2020

As a victim of a domestic violence incident, can I get my landlord to change my locks?

Yes, but you may have to pay for it.

If the abuser DOES NOT live with you: Any victim of a domestic violence incident can make a request in writing that the landlord change the locks (without providing proof of the incident).

If the abuser DOES live with you: If the abuser is a tenant in the home with you, along with the written request to your landlord, you need to provide the landlord with a copy of the protective order, which must state that the abuser has to stay away from you, any other household member, or the apartment.

The landlord must change the locks to all entrance doors to your apartment within 5 business days of your request.1

The landlord will pay the initial cost of changing the locks, but you have to pay back the landlord within 45 days of him/her providing you with proof of the cost.  You might also have to pay whatever additional fee the building normally charges tenants to change locks.2

See our Safety Tips page for more information and ideas on how to keep yourself and your family safe.

1 D.C. Code § 42-3505.08(a)
2 D.C. Code § 42-3505.08(b)