Kentucky Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Kentucky Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 24, 2023 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees

Costs of damage

Return Deadline No statute
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return No statute

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Kentucky, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Kentucky

In Kentucky, the following can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear

Most states, such as Kentucky, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear  in Kentucky?

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Kentucky?

Landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Kentucky?

Landlords in Kentucky can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures.

However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Kentucky?

Landlords can make deductions from the security deposit for cleaning, but only if the tenant causes damage that requires cleaning, such as wine stains on the carpet.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • Minor cracks in the original paint

Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Security Deposit Returns in Kentucky

When a lease term ends in Kentucky, landlords must conduct a final inspection and create a comprehensive list of damage to the rental unit including an estimated cost to repair. Tenants must have the right to inspect the rental unit to verify the list.

The tenant must either:

  • Sign the list (which waives their right to dispute)
  • Indicate in writing which items they disagree with

If a tenant files a small claim, they are only entitled to recover amounts related to items they specifically disagreed with in writing unless the landlord failed to review the list of damages with the tenant.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Kentucky?

Unlike in most states, Kentucky does not have a specific deadline for the return of a security deposit. Landlords must return the security deposit to the tenant within a reasonable length of time with a written notice stating how much they withheld (if any).

If the landlord makes deductions, they must leave the withheld portion of the security deposit in its holding account for 60 days. If the tenant does not respond after 60 days, the landlord can withdraw and keep the unclaimed portion of the security deposit.

If the tenant leaves without paying their last month’s rent and does not request the return of their security deposit, the landlord must wait 30 days after the lease term ends before withdrawing the security deposit and applying it to the tenant’s debt.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Kentucky?

Kentucky law does not require landlords to provide interest on held security deposits.

How Do Landlords Give Notice in Kentucky?

Landlords must send written notice to the tenant’s last known (or reasonably determined) address including the amount of the security deposit due to the tenant.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Kentucky?

Kentucky law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Disputes in Kentucky

If landlords do not return the security deposit or fail to provide tenants the opportunity to attend the final inspection, tenants can file for the return of the portion of the security deposit wrongfully withheld in court.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Disagreement with the itemized deductions
  • Failure to hold the security deposit in a financial account
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Kentucky?

If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court. In Kentucky, tenants can file a case in Small Claims Court if the amount claimed is less than $2,500. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in District Court.

A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within 5 years.