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Legal Information: North Carolina

Housing Laws

Updated: 
February 6, 2020

Can I get the landlord to change the locks of my residence or to allow me to do it?

Your landlord has to either change the locks within either 48 or 72 hours (depending on whether the abuser is a tenant in the home or not) or give you permission to change the locks yourself. However, whether the landlord does it or you do it, you are responsible for the expense of changing the locks.

There are different procedures that you have to follow to change the locks depending on whether the perpetrator (abuser) is a tenant in the same household or not. Also, if you live in an apartment building that has a main entry door shared by many tenants, the landlord is only required to change the lock to your apartment, not to the main entry door.

If the perpetrator is not a tenant in the same residence as you:

  • You (the tenant) may give verbal or written notice to the landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and may request that the locks be changed. You are not required to provide documentation of the abuse to the landlord.
  • The landlord must change the locks or give you permission to change the locks within 48 hours of receiving the request from you.1

If the perpetrator is a tenant in the same residence as you:

  • You (the tenant) may give verbal or written notice to the landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and may request that the locks be changed.
  • However, there must be a court order that orders the perpetrator (abuser) to stay away from the residence and you must provide a copy of this order to the landlord. The order can be a protective order, a criminal judgment, a pre-trial release order, or any other order that says the abuser has to stay away from the home.
  • The landlord must change the locks or give you permission to change the locks within 72 hours.
  • Note: Even if the perpetrator is removed from the home, s/he can still be held responsible by the landlord for the rent and for any damage caused to the residence.2

If the landlord does not change the locks within the 48 hours or 72 hours required by law, you can change the locks to your residence without the landlord’s permission. However, if you change the locks, you must give a key to the new lock(s) to the landlord within 48 hours of the locks being changed.3

1 NCGS § 42-42.3(a)
2 NCGS § 42-42.3(b)
3 NCGS § 42-42.3(c)