Landlords and tenants in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky must adhere to local and state rental laws that affect their rights, responsibilities, and landlord-tenant relationship. Much like in other states, comprehending and navigating Kentucky's laws can present it’s fair share of challenges.
To help landlords and tenants make sense of the state’s rental laws, we created this comprehensive guide. Landlords will walk away with the knowledge needed to safeguard their properties and foster positive tenant interactions. At the same time, tenants can learn about their fundamental rights when it comes to living in a rental property.
Learn information on crucial topics like tenant screening, security deposits, rental agreements, evictions, and so much more. This guide will help both landlords and renters understand the ins and outs of Kentucky’s legal framework as outlined in the Kentucky Revised Statutes Title XXII.
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Yes, Kentucky is known to be a landlord-friendly state. It even ranks as the second most friendly state in the country! The reason for this is that the state lacks rent control laws, limited statutes surrounding security deposits and late fees, and requirements for safe housing are lower as compared to other states. Furthermore, Kentucky has low property taxes, which makes it a great state to invest in the real estate market.
Kentucky state law provides landlords in the state with specific rights, enabling them to run successful rental businesses that are safeguarded from legal issues. Some of their main fundamental rights as landlords include:
Rental property owners in Kentucky also have certain responsibilities to uphold to guarantee a safe and smooth tenancy for their renters. Their main obligations are as follows:
Same as landlords, Kentucky tenants have fundamental rights that provide them with safety and legal protection during their tenancy. Some of their key rights include:
Kentucky renters also have their own set of obligations to uphold while renting from a landlord. They must:
Kentucky has very few statutes governing the rental application and tenant screening process. For one, it does not limit how much a landlord can charge for an application fee and application fees are not refundable even for prospective tenants who were denied. They are also not limited to what they can ask on the application, but it’s important to note that they are bound by the federal Fair Housing Act and cannot discriminate against protected classes.
Furthermore, Kentucky allows landlords to run background checks on potential tenants as long as they have the person’s consent. Background checks can include credit reports, criminal history, and eviction history.
Both written and oral lease agreements are accepted in Kentucky. However, it’s important to document the lease agreement as it grants important rights and responsibilities to all parties involved.
While Kentucky law doesn’t require any specific clauses to be included in a rental agreement, it’s important for landlords to include certain information in their lease such as the lease term, landlord and tenant contact information, and rent payment specifics.
Kentucky landlord-tenant law permits rental owners to collect a security deposit at the beginning of a lease to cover potential property damage and other unforeseen costs. Kentucky doesn’t limit how much a landlord can charge for their security deposit.
Other important security deposit laws for Kentucky landlords to know include:
Unlike most states, Kentucky law does not have a statute requiring landlords to return the security deposit within a specific timeframe after the tenant has moved out. However, they must notify the tenant in writing of any deductions in writing and hold the deposit for up to 60 days while they wait for a response from the renter.
Landlords can legally withhold a portion or all of the deposit for reasons including damage other than normal wear and tear and unpaid rent, utilities, and fees.
Kentucky law does not have rent control statutes, thus, landlords in the state are may charge whatever they deem appropriate for rent and increase rent as often as they choose, except during the lease period, unless the lease agreement allows for it.
Unless otherwise agreed upon between the two parties, rent payments are to be made at the rental property at the beginning of the each month.
If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords can charge a late fee the day after rent is due, as the state does not have a grace period. There is no maximum for late fees. However, the fee must be a reasonable amount.
Kentucky tenants are not permitted to withhold rent for any reason. But, they can use a portion of their rent to make minor repairs if the landlord fails to do so in the required 14-day period.
Like other states, Kentucky holds landlords in the state responsible for providing and maintaining their rental unit in habitable condition, meaning it must comply with building and housing codes both state and local. If the landlord violates this statute, tenants can usually report the landlord to government authorities for unsafe living conditions.
In Kentucky, landlords have 14 days to make repairs after receiving written notice from a tenant. If they fail to do so, tenants can take several actions: suing for costs, filing a cort order to force the landlord to make the repair, and even canceling the lease agreement early. Tenants may also use the “repair and deduct” remedy for minor repairs, but need to notify the landlord before they do so and subsequently provide an itemized statement of the repairs done.
Kentucky rental owners have the right to enter their units for reasons including inspections, maintenance, and property showings. Outside of emergencies, landlords must provide two days’ notice before entering the property and only enter at reasonable times.
Kentucky state law allows landlords to evict tenants from their rental units for certain legal reasons, and depending on the reason, a specific notice period must be given. Here are Kentucky’s main reasons and the required notice period for evictions:
Same as most other states, self-help evictions are illegal in Kentucky. A self-help eviction includes removing or excluding the tenant from the unit and interrupting or reducing services like major utilities.
On the flip side, tenants can also terminate a lease agreement early for the following reasons:
Kentucky renters who break their lease early for legal reasons may still be liable for paying the rest of the rent owed on the lease.
In addition to covering topics such as security deposits and rental agreements, Kentucky state law also addresses issues like housing discrimination and retaliation. Some of these topics are explored below.
Same as other states, Kentucky has housing discrimination laws in place that protect tenants from discrimination when searching for or living in a rental property. The Kentucky Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, or religion. It is illegal for landlords, real estate operators, brokers, or salesmen to refuse housing to someone based on these protected characteristics. Federal fair housing laws also protect Kentucky renters from discrimination.
Tenants who believe they’ve been discriminated against can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD handles complaints about housing discrimination and provides assistance dealing with housing- and landlord-related issues.
It’s illegal for Kentucky landlords to retaliate against their tenants for taking protected actions like reporting the landlord to a government body for safety and health violations.
In Kentucky, raising rent, reducing services, and threatening evictions are all considered versions of retaliation.
Kentucky rental property owners must provide certain disclosures to tenants at the beginning of the lease period:
At its root, understanding Kentucky's rental laws, rights, and rules is crucial for maintaining a good relationship between landlords and tenants. These laws are made to protect both parties' rights and duties, making sure the rental process is fair and equal.
For landlords in Kentucky, knowing and following these laws is essential to protect their rental business, as well as foster positive interactions with tenants. At the same time, tenants also gain from these rules and regulations as they protect their safety and security while residing in a rental property.
Both renters and landlords should do their due diligence to learn and comprehend Kentucky’s laws as they stand now, but also as they evolve and change in the future.
In addition to this guide, there are ample resources available to both Indiana landlords and tenants. Many of these resources cover specific city and local regulations that the state’s rental laws do not cover. Explore some of these resources below:
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