Kentucky Habitability Laws

Kentucky’s Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act governs landlord/tenant issues in the state. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits.

Quick Facts for Kentucky

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Kentucky applies to short-term and long-term rental properties that are single-family or multi-family dwellings. It does not apply to fraternities/sororities or hotels/motels. The Act is optional—municipalities are not required to adopt the Act.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

14 days after receiving written notice.

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so. Tenants are allowed to deduct the costs of any repairs they make from their monthly rent.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Working HVAC equipment, plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, and elevators (in buildings that have them), as well as a trash can (for trash pickup services). Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenants. Tenants can live in temporary housing until the landlord fixes a habitability issue.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within 14 days. They must also provide 2 days’ notice before entering the unit to make these repairs.

The following chart lays out which types of rental units the law applies to.

Understanding the Law

In Kentucky, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act is not enforced in every locality.  Towns, cities, and other local governments may choose whether or not to adopt the Act.  If the rental property is not a jurisdiction that has adopted the Act, nothing in this article applies to you.

For all residential properties, landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.

They’re also required to perform any repairs to make the unit livable which are not caused by the tenant. 

Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit.

Rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists common landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Kentucky, as indicated below.

Addressing Habitability Issues 

For any repairs the landlord makes due to the tenant’s actions, the landlord can:

  • Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
  • Bill the tenant the actual cost of repairs as additional rent.

Under the law, tenants have 14 days to repair any damage they have caused.

Tenant Repair Requests

If tenants request repairs, they must put their request in writing.  The landlord will then have 14 days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice.

If the landlord fails to make the requested repairs within 14 days, a tenant has the right to:

  • Terminate the lease 30 days after giving the initial notice.
  • Make the repairs themselves and deduct $100 or half the amount of the monthly rent, whichever is greater.

Landlord Access

Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs.  However, a landlord must give tenants 2 days’ notice unless:

  • The tenant no longer occupies the property.
  • It’s an emergency.
  • There’s a court order granting the landlord access. 

Failure to Provide the “Essentials”

If a landlord intentionally or negligently fails to provide heat, water, electricity, and/or other “essentials,” tenants are allowed to:

  • Pay for any necessary utilities themselves and deduct this amount from the monthly rent until the landlord begins paying for utilities again.
  • Move into temporary housing until the landlord corrects the issue.  The tenant is not required to pay any rent to the landlord while in temporary housing.
  • Pursue legal action to receive damages.

Retaliation

Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Kentucky law.  The landlord may be required to pay an amount equal to as much as three months’ rent if found guilty of retaliating against a tenant.

Security Deposits and Repairs

Finally, if the costs for any repairs will be taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to provide an itemized estimate of everything to be paid from the deposit upon the lease’s termination. 

No timeframe for the return of the deposit (not even a “reasonable” one) is set forth in the Act.

Sources

  1. Kentucky Attorney General, “Rental Housing.”
  2. Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 383, Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

Read About the Warranty of Habitability in Other States