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Can I change the locks on a joint owned property?

Our specialist family solicitor in Blaby, Claire Holland, answers a frequent question – “Can i change the locks on my house?”

You should not change the locks on a jointly-owned property without the consent of the co-owner, even if divorce proceedings have been commenced. If you go ahead and change the locks without the consent of the co-owner, ie your spouse, the co-owner would be entitled to gain entry. If your spouse gained entry by breaking a window, then you could be landed with a costly repair bill!

A better way of handling this situation may be to have your Family Solicitor write to your spouse, requesting that he/she stays away from the property because your privacy should be respected. If there are items that he/she needs from the home, then they can be invited to collect these by appointment.  In my experience, most reasonable people will see the sense of this alternative solution.  If however your spouse is not willing to agree to this suggestion and continues to attend the jointly owned property without invitation, and in turn, causing you distress, then you may be able to apply for an injunction order under the Family Law Act 1996 ordering your spouse to stay away from the matrimonial home pending the outcome of your financial case.

Claire Holland – Chartered Legal Executive and Family Law Specialist

Josiah Hincks Solicitors, based at the Branch Office in Blaby