My ex has moved out, can I change the locks on the former marital/defacto home?

Generally if there is no court order in place which affects your right to occupy the property, you will be able to have the locks changed. However, this will also depend on who legally owns the property.

Who Legally Owns The Property?

If the property is legally owned by just one of you (i.e. only one person’s named is listed on the Certificate of Title), then only that person has the right to change the locks. If your ex-partner owns the property, then you should seek their consent or provide them with notice that you intend to change the locks.

Joint Ownership

If you both (jointly) own the property, either as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common, then you have the right to change the locks. Do be aware that your spouse is also entitled to reclaim access (and have the locks changed again) without your consent.

Leased Property

If you lease the property, then you must obtain your landlord’s consent to change the locks. You will likely be required to provide a copy of the key to the landlord and potentially the other tenants named on the lease too.

Seek Legal Advice Before Taking Action

Even if you can change the locks, it is important to consider whether you should. This will depend on your individual set of circumstances and you should always seek legal advice before taking such action.