Kentucky Landlord Tenant Laws

This is a summary of Kentucky Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Kentucky Revised Statutes Annotated and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Kentucky landlord-tenant laws, Kentucky eviction laws, and Kentucky renters’ rights. 

However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer.  If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.

Rules and Regulations Governing Kentucky Landlord-Tenant Laws

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383 – Landlord and Tenant

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383.535 – Exclusions from Application

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413 – Limitation of Actions

Kentucky Lease Terms Provisions

Kentucky Security Deposit Laws

  • What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
    There is no Kentucky law limiting security deposits.
  • Are security deposits required to earn interest?

No. There is no Kentucky law requiring security deposits to earn interest.

  • Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account? 

Yes, Kentucky law requires that all security deposits be deposited in a separate security deposit bank account. Prospective tenants shall be informed of the location of the separate account and the account number. (KRS § 383.580(1))

  • Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?

No. There is no Kentucky law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge. 

  • How long do landlords have to return security deposits?

30 days if tenant leaves without paying last month’s rent and does not demand deposit return, and 60 days if tenant leaves without owing rent and any refund due. (KRS § 383.580(6), KRS § 383.580(7))

  • Can landlords withhold security deposits?

Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover accrued rent and to repair damages to the property. (KRS § 383.580)

  • Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?

Yes. At the termination of occupancy, the landlord shall inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive listing of any damage to the unit which is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar cost of repairing such damage. The tenant shall then have the right to inspect the premises to ascertain the accuracy of such listing. The landlord and the tenant shall sign the listing, which signatures shall be conclusive evidence of the accuracy of such listing. If the tenant shall refuse to sign such listing, he shall state specifically in writing the items on the list to which he dissents, and shall sign such statement of dissent. (KRS § 383.580(3))

  • Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?

No. There is no Kentucky law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.

  • Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?

No. There is no Kentucky law specifying record-keeping requirements.

  • What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?

Tenants may bring an action in small claims court.

Kentucky Rent Laws

  • Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)

No. There are no rent control laws in Kentucky.

  • When is rent due?

Rent is due at the time and place agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. Unless they agree to a different arrangement, rent is due at the beginning of the month and will be paid in equal monthly installments.  (KRS § 383.565(2)). 

  • Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?

No. There is no Kentucky law requiring a certain payment method for rent.

Fees

  • Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?

Yes. There is no Kentucky law forbidding late fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?

No. There is no Kentucky law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.

  • Can landlords charge application fees?

Yes. There is no Kentucky law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Can landlords charge returned check fees?

Yes. Landlords can charge a late fee up to $50. (KRS § 514.040)

Kentucky Landlord-Tenant Relations

Notices

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?

No. There is no Kentucky law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms. However, landlords cannot raise your rent in the middle of your lease.

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?

No. There is no Kentucky law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.

  • What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?

No notice is required — the lease ends on the date stated in the lease.

  • What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic lease?

Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease with 7 days written notice. (KRS § 383.695(1))

  • What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic lease?

Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease with 30 days written notice. (KRS § 383.695(2)

  • Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?

There is no statute in Kentucky law covering this issue.

Entry Provisions

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
    • To inspect the premises. 
    • To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
    • To supply necessary or agreed services. 
    • To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors. (KRS § 383.615(1))
  • What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?

The landlord must provide notice at least 2 days in advance and may enter only at reasonable times. (KRS § 383.615(3))

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?
    • In case of an emergency.
    • Under court order.
    • When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
    • To make repairs to conditions materially affecting health and safety and caused by the tenants’ failure to comply with their duties (see Tenant’s Duties). (KRS § 383.615(2), KRS § 383.615(4))

Landlord Duties in Kentucky

  • At the commencement of the term, landlord shall deliver possession of the premises to tenant in compliance with the rental agreement (KRS § 383.590).
  • Landlords must comply with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
  • Landlords must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
  • Landlords must keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
  • Landlords must maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.
  • Landlords must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat between October 1 and May 1. (KRS § 383.595)

Tenant Duties in Kentucky

  • Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
  • Tenants must keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits.
  • Tenants must dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste cleanly and safely.
  • Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits.
  • Tenants must use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises in a reasonable manner;
  • Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly permit any person to do so.
  • Tenants and their guests must conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises. (KRS § 383.605)
  • Unless otherwise agreed, tenant shall occupy his/her dwelling unit only as a dwelling unit. The rental agreement may require that the tenant notify the landlord of any anticipated extended absence from the premises in excess of 7 days no later than the first day of the extended absence. (KRS § 383.620). 

Required Landlord Disclosures

  • Landlords are required to disclose in writing the names and business addresses of: 
    • the person authorized to manage the premises.
    • the owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for service of process and receiving notices. (KRS § 383.585(1))
  • Before renting pre-1978 property, landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards. (16 CFR 1303, 42 U.S. Code § 4852d) . If the landlord fails to disclose all known lead paint hazards, the landlord can face fines of up to $19,507 for each violation (24 CFR 30.65).

Kentucky Renters’ Rights

  • What are Kentucky renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)

If a landlord’s failure to comply with the rental agreement or their legal duties materially affects health and safety, the renter may deliver a written notice to the landlord identifying the issue(s). If the landlord does not remedy the breach within 14 days of receiving notice,  the lease will terminate after 30 days. The tenant is also entitled to actual damages and may obtain injunctive relief.  (KRS § 383.625)

  • Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?

Yes. If the landlord willfully and materially fails to comply with the rental agreement or fails to comply with the landlord’s duties in a manner affecting health and safety, and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than the greater of $100 or 1/2 of the monthly rent, the tenant may provide notice of intent to repair. If the landlord does not repair within 14 days, then the tenant may repair and deduct the amount from the rent. (KRS § 383.635(1))

 If a landlord fails to supply running water, hot water, heat, sanitary facilities, or other essential services, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and may immediately procure reasonable amounts of the essential service(s) and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent. This also applies to any repairs necessary to procure the essential service(s). (KRS § 383.640(1))

  • What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Kentucky renter’s rights?

Kentucky law prohibits landlords from increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession if the tenant has complained to a governmental agency about a health and safety violation, complained to the landlord about a breach of landlord’s duties, or if the tenant becomes a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization. (KRS § 383.705)

Kentucky Eviction Laws

  • What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under Kentucky eviction laws?
    • Nonpayment of rent (KRS §383.660(2)
    • A material violation of lease terms / rental agreement or tenant’s duties  (KRS §383.660(1)
    • The tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration or termination of the term of the rental agreement (holdover tenancy) (KRS § 383.695(4))
  • What notice do Kentucky eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
    • For evictions based on non-payment of rent, the landlord must give a 7-day notice to pay before starting the eviction process.  (KRS §383.660(2)
  • For evictions based on violations of the rental agreement or tenant’s duties, the landlord must give a -14 day notice to comply, giving tenants 15 days to remedy the breach before starting the eviction process. (KRS §383.660(1)
  • For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, landlords must provide the notice required to end the tenancy. If the tenant remains on the rental property after the termination date, the landlord can begin the eviction process without providing additional notice. (KRS § 383.695)
  • Do Kentucky eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities? 

No. If a landlord evicts a tenant using self-help methods (unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the premises or willfully diminishes services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service), the tenant can choose to recover possession or terminate the lease. Tenants can also recover up to three months’ rent and reasonable attorney’s fees. (KRS § 383.655)

COVID-19 Changes to Kentucky Landlord-Tenant Laws

Squatter’s rights in Kentucky

Under Homestead Act of 1862, individuals (squatters) can possess the property if they have lived there for a specific period of time, done so publicly, made repairs to the property, have deed to the property and have paid rent or taxes on this property.

Kentucky has no specific laws recognizing squatters.

The squatter must either live on the property continuously for 15 years or must hold color of title while living on the property continuously for 7 years (KRS § 413.010, KRS § 413.060). 

Related Links

Government 

Legal Aid

Attorney Referral Services

Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations

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