In Kansas, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Kansas varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Kansas law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Kansas
Landlord Responsibilities. Through the interpretation of Kansas’ existing landlord-tenant laws, its judiciary system has highlighted an “implied warranty of habitability” that all landlords operating in the state must abide by. To that end, Kansas landlords must provide and maintain the following amenities to the extent that they “materially affect” a tenant’s health or safety:
- Safe electric wiring, outlets, and lighting
- Adequate plumbing
- Proper sanitary facilities
- Adequate heating and air-conditioning
- Trash can (for rubbish removal services)
- Hot and cold running water
Should one of these amenities (or any amenity assigned to a landlord in an applicable lease) fall out of working order, an affected landlord may request prompt repairs. Kansas law does not specify how quickly a landlord must reply to or act upon this kind of request, so it is assumed that it is up to their discretion. Failure to act on a justified request may open the door for an affected tenant to terminate their lease, however.
Tenant Responsibilities. Apart from paying rent on time, tenants in Kansas are responsible for keeping their unit in a clean condition, in accordance with relevant health and/or safety codes. If a Kansas landlord feels that this latter responsibility is not being upheld, then they may request that their tenant change their actions or behaviors accordingly. Because Kansas state law does not specific how long a notified tenant has to take action on this front, it is assumed that they must do so promptly or face eviction
Evictions in Kansas
To evict a tenant in Kansas, a landlord must rely on one or more of the following justifications if their eviction is challenged or contested later on:
- Nonpayment of rent – When a tenant has been renting from a Kansas landlord for 3 or fewer months, they are entitled to only a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit before an eviction can be carried out. However, tenants who have rented for more than 3 months are entitled to a 10-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. Both notices can only be issued after any applicable grace period has elapsed.
- Violation of lease terms – A Kansas landlords can evict their tenants for any type lease term violation. As soon as such an infraction is documented, they can issue a 14/30 Day Notice that states how the tenant can cure their behavior or actions within 14 days. If the tenant fails to remedy the issue within those 14 days, they should be expected to move out or face eviction 30 days after the original notice was served.
- Illegal Acts – Kansas does not enumerate what kinds of illegal behavior may justify eviction at a statewide level. Instead, landlords must enumerate eviction-worthy infractions in the terms of their lease agreements. Kansas courts may still enforce evictions levied against individuals who commit illegal acts, though, even if their specific infraction is not described in the applicable lease.
Evictions without a lease. Tenants in Kansas who rent from a landlord without a lease are categorically considered renters “at will.” When it comes to evictions, this means that they are only entitled as many days of advance notice of their impending eviction as their average rental period. As such, month-to-month renters without a lease are entitled to 30 days of advance notice before they can be expected to move out.
Illegal Evictions. Under Kansas law, landlords cannot use the threat of eviction as a retaliatory consequence for acting upon another relevant right. As such, Kansas landlords are prohibited from evicting a tenant solely because they:
- Request a repair
- Reported a health or safety code violation to a government authority
- Joining a tenant organization or union
The city of Topeka, Kansas, also applies a time-based limitation on how long a tenant receives these kinds of protections against retaliatory evictions. Specifically, they are entitled to 6 months of protection from this kind of eviction. All tenants in Kansas, however, are protected from discriminatory evictions on the basis of characteristics outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act.
Security Deposits in Kansas
Kansas landlords are legally obligated to follow these rules and regulations when it comes to collecting, maintaining, and redistributing security deposits amongst their tenants:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Kansas sets several different limits for maximum security deposit values based upon the nature of the apartment and its inhabitants. These standard limits are as follows:
- Unfurnished Unit – 1 months’ rent
- Furnished Unit – 11/2 months’ rent
- Pets – ½ months’ rent
- Interest and Maintenance – Kansas landlords are not required to use any certain type of bank account (including an escrow) to maintain their collected security deposits. Landlords in Kansas also do not need to collect interest on their maintained security deposits or pay out any interest if their maintained deposits do incur interest.
- Time Limit for Return – If a Kansas tenant demands a refund of their security deposit, it must be mailed to them (with any necessary deductions made and an explanatory document explaining said deductions attached) in 14 days. However, if no request is made, a landlord must return any remaining security deposit funds within 30 days of that tenant’s lease expiring.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – Wrongfully withholding a security deposit in Kansas may open the offending landlord to repaying the value of the original deposit in full. They may also be compelled to pay up to 1.5 times the value of the original deposit as a penalty.
- Allowable Deductions – Kansas landlords are chiefly allowed to deduct funds from a security deposit to cover missing rent payments or to pay for necessary repairs during or after the lease agreements duration. However, they may make deductions for other lease violations, so long as they can justify said deduction at the end of the leasing period.
Lease Termination in Kansas
Notice Requirements. Tenants in Kansas are not required to give their landlords any advance notice of their intent to terminate their lease if their lease includes a fixed end-date. However, those that rent or lease on a periodic basis must provide the following amounts of notice in order for their request to be legally justified:
- Week-to-Week Lease – 7 days of advance notice
- Month-to-Month Lease – 30 days of advance notice
- Yearly Lease without an End Date – 30 days of advance notice before the end of the yearly period
In all cases, Kansas tenants must provide this kind of notice in writing.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. Many Kansas tenants are able to terminate their lease early by activating an early termination clause written into the terms of their lease. However, not all Kansas tenants have this opportunity. As such, Kansas tenants who are looking to end their lease agreement early should consider invoking one of these legally-protected justifications:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – Landlords in Kansas are obliged under the state’s implied warranty of habitability to maintain their rental units in a livable condition, even when they are occupied. If they fail to do this (often in the form of delaying repairs to essential amenities in the requisite time period), their tenants may become eligible to terminate their lease due to their “constructive eviction.”
- Landlord Harassment – Kansas only requires landlords to give “reasonable notice” prior to entering an inhabited unit. Landlords and tenants are responsible for defining this standard in their lease agreement. If a landlord routinely breaks this standard or abuses their right to enter without notice in emergency situations, then their tenant may be able to push for lease termination due to their landlord’s harassing behaviors.
Tenants in Kansas who do break their lease early may remain liable to pay any remaining rent owed on their lease after they have vacated the unit. However, this obligation can be removed when a new tenant takes over that unit. As such, tenants are encouraged to seek out new tenants on their landlords’ behalf. Even so, Kansas landlords still have an obligation to “mitigate damages” from their tenant’s termination by seeking out a new tenant with “reasonable” speed.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Kansas
Rent control & increases. Kansas’ current real estate laws allow it to preempt any form of local rent control policy. As a result, landlords operating in Kansas are able to charge as much as they want for rent. Kansas does require 30 days of advance notice before any potential rent increases, though, and treats any rent increase notice as a notice to agree to new terms or move out.
Rent related fees. Kansas landlords are permitted to charge tenants who fail to pay rent on time (including after any relevant grace period) a late payment fee. Moreover, they can charge as much for these fees (per diem and in total) as their applicable lease allows. As such, without a provision limiting such fees, a landlord can charge as much as they want for a late fee.
Interestingly enough, Kansas does limit how much a landlord can charge for a returned check fee. Specifically, they can only charge a flat fee of $30 per bounced check.
Housing Discrimination in Kansas
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Kansas’ current civil rights legislation and fair housing laws do not provide for any extra protected classes beyond those set forth in the federal Fair Housing Act. As such, generally discriminatory housing practices exhibited in other states also tend to be outlawed in Kansas.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Kansas Human Rights Commission certifies that all landlords operating in the state are providing equal protections to all current and prospective housing tenants. This includes regulating business practices that may have the effect of being discriminatory against one or more protected classes. Several prohibited acts, when used to target a protected class, are as follows:
- Refusing to rent, sell, or lease housing
- Imposing unequal terms, conditions, services, or privileges among tenants
- Intimidating, threatening, or coercing individuals who exercising their fair housing rights
- Denying the availability of housing that is, in fact, available
- Applying occupancy standards unevenly or in excess of local housing codes
- Blockbusting, redlining, or steering prospective tenants in or out of a particular neighborhood
Individual results may vary when it comes to reporting perceived discrimination to the Kansas Human Rights Commission, which can be done here or over the phone. As such, it is assumed that penalties for landlords who are found to have discriminated against their tenants range from monetary fines to professional sanctions.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Kansas
There are even more landlord-tenant laws in Kansas that don’t fall into a generalized category. Be sure to read up on them, though, because these following regulations are often the subject of disagreement between landlords and tenants in Kansas.
Landlord Entry. In Kansas, landlords only need to give their tenants a “reasonable” amount of notice to enter their occupied unit at a “reasonable” hour. Because this language is open to interpretation, Kansas landlords and tenants must define their own landlord entry policy in the terms of their mutual lease. However, even with those provisions in place, it is assumed that landlords can enter without notice when an emergency strikes.
Small Claims Court. Landlords and tenants in Kansas have the option to formally work out their disputes by utilizing the state’s small claims court. To have their case heard in this venue, however, a landlord or a tenant must bring a claim that is valued at fewer than $4,000 and remains within the proper statute of limitations (5 and 3 years for written and oral contracts, respectively). Eviction cases are not heard here, though, and instead are heard in the state’s district courts.
Mandatory Disclosures. Kansas landlords are only required to make two types of disclosures to newly-leased tenants. First, a Kansas landlord disclose their own full name and address, as well as the same for any property owner or agent certified to act on their behalf. If the building in question was built before 1978, the landlord must also provide federally-mandated lead-based paint hazard disclosures.
Changing the Locks. Kansas’ current landlord-tenant laws do not forbid tenants from changing their own locks. However, individuals that choose to do so should still provide a new set of keys to their landlord so that they do not run afoul of any applicable right of entry laws. Kansas landlords, on the other hand, cannot unilaterally change their tenants’ locks due to a statewide prohibition of intentional or incidental lockouts.
Kansas Landlord-Tenant Resources
You may still have a few worthwhile questions about Kansas’ landlord-tenant laws. These following resources will help you answer those questions on your own terms:
Kansas Tenants Handbook – Though it isn’t published by the Kansas state government, this handbook is by far the best digital resource available for new and seasoned tenants in the Sunflower State. This book’s format is centered around important questions posed by tenants, so you can easily find answers on topics across the landlord-tenant law spectrum.
Kansas Statutes Chapter 58, Section 25 – This section of the Kansas statutory code details almost every regulatory provision that applies to landlord-tenant leasing relationships. Parties that are in dispute should turn to this resource if they are looking to understand the most up-to-date language that governs their situation.
Small Claims Court – What is it? How do I use it? – This consumer-oriented pamphlet from the Kansas Bar Association is designed to succinctly answer a landlord or a tenant’s questions regarding how the state’s small claims court operates. This pamphlet also contains a valuable list of legal terms that tenants are forced to content with if their landlord attempts to bring suit against them.