Kentucky Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Kentucky landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Kentucky Landlord Tenant Act.

KY Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 383 - Landlord and Tenant
  • Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 383.500 to 383.715 - Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In Covington, Lexington and Louisville, it is also illegal for landlords to reject someone as a renter because of his or her sexual orientation.

Landlords must follow the above Fair Housing laws UNLESS the dwelling has two or less rental units and is occupied by the landlord or landlord's family member.  KRS 344.365(1)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

In the absence of a rental agreement, the tenancy shall be month to month by default. If the tenant pays rent every week, then the tenancy shall be week to week.  KRS 383.565(3)

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Kentucky landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property  KRS 383.580(1)(a)
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)  KRS 383.585(1)(b)
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Kentucky landlord tenant law also recommends including a clause that requires the tenant to inform the landlord whenever he or she will be away from the property for seven or more days.  KRS 383.620

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Kentucky landlord tenant law KRS 383.570(1), your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the Kentucky Landlord and Tenant Act
  • permit the tenant to authorize another person to confess judgment (on a claim arising from the rental agreement)
  • make the tenant pay for the landlord's attorney fees (unless ordered by the courts)
  • limit the landlord or tenant's liability when they have failed in their duties

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Security Deposit

Kentucky landlord tenant law does not limit the maximum amount of security deposit that the landlord can ask (as long as the tenant is agreeable).

Kentucky landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a trust account of a bank or lending institution (regulated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky or United States government). The tenant shall be informed of the account location and account number.  KRS 383.580(1)

Before paying the deposit, the tenant has to be given an initial list of the existing damage(s) to the property. This list has to be signed by both the landlord and tenant. Before signing the list, the tenant can inspect the property to make sure that it is accurate.  KRS 383.580(2)

There are no Kentucky landlord tenant statutes on security deposit interest, pet deposits or non-refundable fees.  KRS 383.580

Deductions and Returns

Kentucky landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.

Once the lease terminates, the landlord shall inspect the property and send the tenant a final list of property damages (and security deposit deductions). The tenant can inspect the property to make sure that the list is accurate. If the tenant wants to dispute this list of damages, he or she can bring an action in District Court.  KRS 383.580(3)

If the tenant leaves without paying last's month rent and doesn't demand the return of his deposit, then the landlord can keep the deposit to pay any debts owed by the tenant.  KRS 383.580(6)

If the tenant leaves after paying rent, the landlord has to inform the tenant (at his or her last known address) how much of the deposit will be refunded. If the tenant doesn't respond within 60 days, the landlord may keep the full deposit amount.  KRS 383.580(7)

If the landlord fails to hold the deposit in a proper method OR fails to give the tenant an initial and final list of damages, the landlord shall not be allowed to keep any security deposit.  KRS 383.580(4)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Louisville, Kentucky KY

Kentucky Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property and shall be pro-rated daily.  KRS 383.565(2)

Late Rent

There are no Kentucky landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

There are no specific Kentucky landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Kentucky Landlord Tenant Act KRS 383.595 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Kentucky landlord tenant law KRS 383.605 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails in his or her responsibilities, the tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent if BOTH conditions are met:

  • The problem or defect affects health and safety
  • It costs less than half month's rent to correct the problem

The tenant has to inform the landlord that he or she intends to fix the problem at the landlord's expense. If the landlord fails to make repairs within 14 days (or as soon as possible in an emergency)... the tenant can pay for the repairs, send the landlord an item-by-item list of work done and deduct the costs from the rent.  KRS 383.635(1)

If Landlord Fails to Provide Essential Services

If the landlord fails to provide an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation), the tenant has three choices:

1. The tenant can obtain essential service(s) and deduct the cost from rent
   
The tenant has to inform the landlord in writing that he or she intends to obtain essential service(s) and deduct the expenses from next month's rent. The tenant should keep the receipts for all related costs.

2. The tenant can sue the landlord for damages
   
If the problems are severe and diminish the property's rental value, the tenant can sue the landlord to recover damages.
   
3. The tenant can move to substitute housing for the time being
   
The tenant can give the landlord written notice that he or she is moving into substitute housing. The tenant doesn't have to pay rent until the problem is fixed. In addition, the tenant may recover (reasonable) attorney fees from the landlord.  KRS 383.640

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Kentucky landlord tenant law KRS 383.615(1), the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting property for damages
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 48 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.  KRS 383.615(3)

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Kentucky landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion  KRS 383.615(2)
  • Tenant has been away from the property for more than seven days without notice  KRS 383.670(2)

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement

In addition, the landlord can also sue the tenant to recover actual damages plus attorney fees.  KRS 383.700(1)

If Landlord Enters Property Illegally

The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required by Kentucky landlord tenant law) to enter the property. If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that stops the landlord from entering the property illegally or harassing the tenant OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement

In addition, the tenant can also sue the landlord to recover actual damages plus attorney fees.  KRS 383.700(2)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Subletting

There are no specific Kentucky landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Lexington, Kentucky KY

Lexington, Kentucky KY

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Kentucky landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.

For a week to week tenancy, you must give this notice at least 7 days before the termination date.  KRS 383.695(1)

For a month to month tenancy, you have to give this notice at least 30 days in advance.  KRS 383.695(2)

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant or dependent is a victim of domestic abuse

30 days

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

14 days

Tenant or Dependent is a Victim of Domestic Abuse

If the tenant or tenant's dependent is a victim of family violence or sexual assault, the tenant can terminate the tenancy (without penalty) by giving the landlord a written 14 day notice to quit.  KRS 383.300, KRS 383.302

This notice must include a statement (under oath or affirmation) that the tenant or tenant's dependent is a victim of family violence PLUS a police, court or government record describing an act of family violence against the tenant or tenant's dependent.

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire or natural disaster (such as earthquake or flood), the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy within 14 days, and the tenancy will be terminated once the tenant moves out.  KRS 383.650
   
After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Eviction

According to Kentucky landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent   

7 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

15 days

Tenant didn't provide labor in exchange for lodging

Immediate

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.  KRS 383.660(2)

If the rent is paid within seven days, the tenant may continue staying on the property.

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a 15 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. *Significant manner refers to situations that affects human health and safety.  KRS 383.660(1)

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by Kentucky landlord tenant law) in a significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a 15 day written notice to terminate the tenancy.

This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within 15 days, the tenant may stay.

However if the tenant violates the tenancy agreement (or fails in his or her duty) in a similar manner within six months, the landlord can evict the tenant by sending him or her a written 15 day notice. In this case, the tenant must move out.

Tenant Remained on Property After Tenancy was Over

If the tenant continues staying on the property after the tenancy expired or is terminated, the landlord can file a lawsuit to regain possession of the property.

If the tenant deliberately overstayed with bad intention, the landlord can recover three month's rent OR three times actual damages (whichever is higher) PLUS attorney fees.  KRS 383.695(4)

Tenant Didn't Provide Labor in Exchange for Lodging

If the tenant is under contract to labor for the landlord in exchange for lodging AND fails to do so, the tenant must move out immediately (without demand or notice from the landlord).  KRS 383.130

Unlawful Eviction

According to Kentucky landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.  KRS 383.690, KRS 383.655
   
If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can EITHER

  1. regain possession of the property OR
  2. terminate the tenancy agreement

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for three month's rent plus attorney's fees.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Abandonment

There are no specific Kentucky landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Resources

Kentucky Landlord Tenant Law: Kentucky Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Like and Share ☺