Kentucky Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Kentucky Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: April 29, 2023

Tenants in parts of Kentucky where the URLTA applies have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord in writing and allow 14 days for repairs to be made.

NOTE: In many of Kentucky’s jurisdictions, there is no right to repair for rentals, and the landlord’s only responsibility to the tenant is to keep the terms of the lease. This article applies only to places which have passed Kentucky’s Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (URLTA).

Kentucky Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Kentucky landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Plumbing.
  • Electricity.
  • Heating (Oct. 1-May 1).
  • Hot running water.
  • Provided appliances.
  • Common areas.
  • Smoke alarms and required carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Utility services.
  • Features that impact health and safety.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Kentucky?

Kentucky tenants are responsible for damage they cause deliberately or negligently. If it’s not an emergency, tenants can usually wait until the landlord asks in writing for repairs.

For landlords of four rental units or fewer, the landlord and tenant can agree for the tenant to handle specific maintenance that doesn’t pass off the landlord’s legal obligations regarding habitability. For single-family homes only, this can include the basic obligations of heating and hot water.

Requesting Repairs in Kentucky

Kentucky tenants must request repairs by writing to the landlord describing the issue. To reserve the relevant legal options, the tenant must also state actions they might take if the landlord does not make timely repairs, such as canceling the lease altogether.

An example of language a tenant might use to state these intentions is: “If the landlord hasn’t remedied the issue in 14 days, the renter may exercise his right to cancel the rental agreement on [date], which is 30 or more days from today.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Kentucky?

Kentucky landlords have 14 days to perform repairs after getting a written request.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Kentucky?

Kentucky landlords cannot refuse to make repairs that are their responsibility. However, the landlord’s refusal to repair does not excuse a renter failing to keep the terms of the rental agreement. For example, a landlord who fails to repair may still be able to evict for a default on rent.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Kentucky?

Kentucky landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs. However, if there’s a repair issue so severe that it forces the tenant off the property, the tenant can usually choose to cancel the rental agreement 14 days after notice and stop paying rent.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Kentucky

Kentucky tenants can cancel the rental agreement if the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs. They can also sue for damages or get an injunction. .

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Kentucky?

Kentucky tenants can’t withhold rent. They’re allowed to repair and deduct part of the rent, or recover overpayment of rent through a court action, but they aren’t allowed to preemptively withhold the entire rent.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Kentucky?

Kentucky tenants can repair and deduct the cost from the next rent payment, when repairs aren’t done 14 days after written notice. Tenants must give the landlord an itemized invoice proving paid reasonable costs. The total cost must be under $100 or half the monthly rent (whichever is greater).

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Kentucky?

Kentucky tenants can break the lease after 30 days, when a breach of the rental agreement or other legal landlord noncompliance hasn’t been corrected 14 days after written notice.

Tenants can also move out and break the lease 14 days after written notice, when the same habitability issue comes up twice within six months, or when the property is destroyed or severely damaged by an action that wasn’t the tenant’s fault (for example, a hurricane).

Can the Tenant Sue in Kentucky?

Kentucky tenants can sue to force repairs or recover monetary damages.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Kentucky?

Kentucky tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.

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Landlord Retaliation in Kentucky

In places that have passed Kentucky’s Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, it’s illegal for landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against a tenant who has taken one of these protected actions within the past year:

  • Reporting health and safety violations.
  • Complaining to the landlord about statutorily required repairs.
  • Participation in a tenant organization.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

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