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Most leases say you can never do it without permission but permission wouldn't be unreasonably withheld but if you ever do it then you absolutely must give LL notification and issue of the new key.

Are these terms valid or overridden by the common law covenant doctrine of exclusive possession? I've read that if you change them back to originals upon leaving then you can never be forbidden as an AST to do that in England.

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    @Rick The landlord can call a locksmith in case of emergency. Aug 26 at 21:09
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    An emergency requires an immediate response, waiting for a locksmith will only delay matters.
    – Rick
    Aug 26 at 21:38
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    I having a hard time concieving an actual emergency that is most appropriately dealt with by a landlord, and not some professional emergency response team.
    – Jasen
    Aug 27 at 0:01
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    @Rick Firefighters and police are equipped to force a door. Repair crews might also be able to force a door, because typical doors aren’t made to stand up to power tools.
    – cpast
    Aug 27 at 0:30
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    @Jasen A water leak or overflowing faucet likely to damage plaster or wallboard, but not dangerous to others or to property i shut oiff promptly. An apparently unattended infant. A small fire which can be dealt with by a hand extinguisher. A window open to a rainstorm, likely to cause property damage but not harm to any person. Aug 27 at 19:11

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The common law covenants of "quiet enjoyment" and exclusive possession never excluded access in a bona fide emergency, and a landlord would be entitled, and perhaps required, to break a door or window open if needed to gain access in the face of an emergency such as a gas leak, where others are potentially endangered and time is of the essence.

That said, a valid and reasonable contract may specify this as the parties please, unless specific law overrides this. For example a local landlord/tenant law could require that the landlord be given access (such as a key) Aside from such laws, the lease can forbid changing locks, permit it only with permission, or permit it freely (perhaps requiring that the landlord be given a key). Any of those provisions would be lawful in the absence of a specific law to the contrary. The lease could also specify when the landlord is to have access, and how much notice. But a provision denying access in a true emergency is probably not valid.

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    in a true emergency the landlord is the wrong person to take action, unless they are on an apropriate emergency response team.
    – Jasen
    Aug 27 at 0:03
  • The people taking the action might reasonably ask the landlord to let them in. Aug 27 at 0:05
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    they should be asking the tennant. and if denied they are justified to break down the door or take other apropriate action.
    – Jasen
    Aug 27 at 0:06
  • Yes @Jasha I agree completely.
    – Joseph P.
    Aug 27 at 22:04
  • Honestly David I feel as though your answer rather largely just dodges the question: yes, we may agree that in bona fide exceptional/emergency circumstances, the landlord would probably be entitled to enter without permission, possibly by breaking in if their key didn't work. But the question is whether it's ever not legally permitted, irrespective of what a contract says, to exclude them under normal circumstances by changing and withholding the key. They may always still be legally entitled to break in but then much less tempted to abuse their
    – Joseph P.
    Aug 27 at 22:09

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