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Do Bathroom Doors Have to Lock?

Do Bathroom Doors Have to Lock?

Sharing a home or an apartment with others can be fun, but it can also be trying at times. It all depends on the person you live with.

One irritating situation we all have had to face is being in the bathroom and someone walking in on us.

But as long as we lock the bathroom door, this shouldn’t be a problem. But what if the bathroom doors do not have a lock?

Most locations will not require a lock to be put on the bathroom door according to many building codes for homes, townhouses, apartments, and other types of residential living spaces. However, most bathrooms already come with locks on the bathroom doors because it is an accepted standard that everyone expects.

Unless you live by yourself, you will want to live in a place that has locks on both the bedroom and bathroom doors.

Do Bathroom Doors Need a Lock?

If a residential unit, like a home or apartment, does not have a lock on a bathroom door, the landlord would not be violating a building code. Locks on bathroom doors are not required.

The only locks that are part of the required building code are front door and back door locks.

However, many people would feel uneasy without a lock on the bathroom door, meaning that most places already have one.

So then, what building code standard do most cities and countries follow and what does it say about interior locks?

Locks and the International Building Code (IBC)

All around the world, countries follow a set of building codes known as the International Residential Code, or the IRC.

The IRC regulates everything about residential living spaces. It has codes for building new homes and apartments and it also has codes for remodeling existing places.

The IRC does not have a building code standard that regulates if bathroom doors should or should not have locks.

Note: Local city or county building codes could regulate that residences need to have locks on bathroom doors. If this were to happen, then the contractors building the homes would have to install door handles with locks or regular door handles with separate locks so they are not in violation of the code.

Should Interior Doors Have Locks?

Just because a building code does not require locks on the bathroom door does not mean we don’t need them.

We may not need them if we live alone, but we would think twice about living in a space that has both lockless doors and roommates.

For personal privacy and security, every bedroom and bathroom should have a lock on it.

Bathroom locks

What Are the Pros and Cons of Locks on Bathroom Doors?

Living in a residence without a bathroom lock might be a deal-breaker for some people, while others may not care at all!

But there are a few situations to consider when locks on bathroom doors could be a benefit or a hindrance.

Here are a few pros and cons of locks on bathroom doors:


  • You can use the bathroom as an alternative place to hide if there is an intruder or assailant in your home or apartment and you cannot reach your bedroom. Locking yourself in your bathroom will give you more time to call the police and the door will protect you from injury.
  • You don’t have to worry about people barging into the bathroom while you are sitting on the toilet or while you are showering or bathing.


  • In an emergency, it will be difficult to get into the bathroom if you are injured and the door is locked. They might have to break down the door.
  • If someone is taking a long time in the bathroom, you cannot go in and grab your stuff.

Why Are There No Locks on Hotel Bathroom Doors?

Hotels have bathrooms in their lobbies so employees and guests have access to toilets and baby changing stations without needing to rent a room.

Having a bathroom in a hotel lobby is a standard all around the world.

A hotel lobby’s bathroom may or may not have a lock. In fact, the bathroom may or may not have a door!

But what about the bathrooms inside of the guests’ rooms? Well, many hotels do not have locks in the guests’ bathrooms because if a guest got injured, it would be hard to go in and assist them if an emergency occurred.

For example, if an elderly person falls into the restroom, the hotel employees can easily open the door with their employee card and help the injured person.

The EMTs can also assist them faster in this way.

If there was a lock on the door, they would either need a maintenance worker on site to take the door off its hinges or they would have to call in a firefighter to break down the door.

In an emergency, time is of the essence and a lock will slow down the rescue process.

Conclusion for Bathroom Doors Having Locks

For residences, like single-family homes and apartments, it is not part of the building code to have locks on the bathroom door.

Most contractors will add door handles with locks, but they are not required to add this feature.

Hotels will not install locks on the bathroom doors of the guests’ rooms for safety and liability reasons.

A lock will make it difficult for employees and EMTs to help the guests if they are injured or trapped in the bathroom.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.