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What is a Residential Lease Agreement?
A residential lease is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant who intends to rent a specific property. It is an all-inclusive document created to outline the expectations of both parties and address any special circumstances that may arise during the length of the agreement. It also clearly states the potential consequences for not adhering to the stated terms. For maximum legal credibility, it is critical that this document be produced in writing, reviewed and signed by both parties prior to occupancy.
Writing a Residential Lease Agreement in Kentucky
When an individual is interested in entering a lease agreement with a landlord who owns a piece of property, the first thing that they will need to do is to fill out a residential lease agreement that explains the terms and the rental agreement and additional aspects. Some of the articles that may be covered in the document can include the common topics that a tenant will want to know about while they are renting the property, but the most important things to cover in the document will include:
Introduction to the Lease and the Parties Involved
When you are writing one of these agreements, the first thing that needs to be done in this document is to introduce the lease and the people who are going to be involved in the agreement. This means that you will need to detail who the tenant is by stating their first and last name. Some of these documents will also require a middle name or initial for each tenant. If there is going to be more than one person living in the unit, then all of the tenants will need to have their names placed in this section.
In addition to the tenant, the landlord and the management company will need to be named in the document. A good phone number where both parties can be reached should also be listed in this section of the document so that they are simple to contact should the need arise. Other information that should be included in the introduction of the lease should be the address of the rental property as well as the county and any identifying crossroads that are near the property.
Terms of the Lease and Occupancy Limits
Once the basic information about the property and the parties have been placed in the document, the next section should discuss some of the pertinent information that needs to be discussed when it comes to the terms of the agreement. To start, the first thing that should be discussed in the document is the amount of square footage that the property has and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that will be available to the tenants when they live there. Also, make sure to include any other information that the tenant will want to be aware of like a laundry facility, storage space, or a pool that they can use on the premise.
Before this document is signed, the tenant and the landlord will need to walk through the property to see if there are any issues that need to be taken care of immediately. This will include things like appliances that need to be replaced, carpeting that needs to be replaced, or other items that may need to be repaired. If the tenant declines to do the walkthrough with the landlord before moving in, the landlord will be required to sign a waiver stating that they did not do a move-in inspection, which will remove the liability from the landlord if the tenant reports that there was anything wrong with the property when they moved in.
Some landlord in the state of Kentucky may limit the number of occupants who can reside in certain units. This is so there are not too many residents in a single apartment, which could make it a fire hazard. If there are rules and regulations about the unit that is being rented, they need to be listed in this part of the document. In addition, guests typically do not count, but if there is a limitation on how long a guest can stay at the property, it will need to be listed here as well.
Rent and Utility Payment
In the next section, the tenant is going to want to know about the monthly cost that they are going to need to pay to rent the unit. Here, it’s important to write down the amount that they will be required to pay each month for staying in the unit as well as the date that the rent is due. For most rental situations, the rent is going to be due to the landlord on the first of the month, but this may change from location to location. If the rent is due at any other time, make sure that the details are mentioned in the document.
When the rent is not received on time, the rental office will often add a late fee to the amount that is due. If there is a late fee, the amount that will be added needs to be laid out in this section as well. Sometimes, a landlord may request that the late payments be made with either a bank check or a money order as well so that they can ensure that the amount will be available when they go to cash the check.
All residential leases will need to be renewed at some point, so if the tenant wishes to stay in the unit past the time that was initially agreed upon, they will need to know the steps that they will need to take to renew the contract. Make sure the steps are clearly stated in the rental agreement, and whether or not the lease will automatically renew.
The last expense that a tenant will want to know about is the utilities that are going to be included in the price of the rent and which ones they will be responsible for paying. If the landlord has decided to cover any of the utilities for the property, make sure to have a list written down in this section. For the other utilities, add a contact number for local companies that will provide the service for the tenant.
Security Deposit and Fees
The security deposit that is going to be required from any new tenant is another part of the document that will need to be covered. This is typically due at the same time as the tenant is moving onto the property, and it generally is a full month’s rent. In the state of Kentucky, there is not a limit on the amount that the landlord can request for the security deposit, but if it is too unreasonable, it’s likely that the unit will not easily be rented.
This money is designed to pay for any repairs that need to be done on the property once the tenant vacates, and according to statute 383.580, the landlord is required to return the security deposit to the tenant within 60 days of the date that they vacate the property. If there is another rule when it comes to the security deposit that the tenant has provided, make sure that it is clearly stated in this section of the document.
In addition, the location where the security deposit is being held must be disclosed in this part of the document, and this must include the bank account number where it is being held as well in case there are any issues with it in the future.
This is not the only fee that can be added onto the rent that the tenant pays each month, but the other amounts are negotiable and often determined between the landlord and the tenant before moving in. The first fee that many tenants will need to pay is for having a designated parking space on the premises. This will ensure that the space is always reserved for the tenant, which can make it easier to park when they get home late at night.
Another fee that may be added to the amount is something that is added to pet owners. Many landlords will request that a tenant pays a small security deposit for the pets that are living in the unit with them so that the money can be used to clean the carpet or get rid of scratches on the wood that is inside the unit.
Maintenance, Alterations, and Repairs
Maintenance concerns are typically taken care of by the landlord, but this is not always the case. If the tenant should have different expectations while they are living in the unit, then the standards to follow when maintenance needs to be performed should be listed in the next section. Sometimes a landlord will allow the tenant to take care of the repairs that need to be done on the property without prior approval, and once the repairs are complete, the landlord will reimburse the tenant for the amount of money that they spent on the property. If the landlord is planning on taking care of the repairs themselves, then make sure that they are notified about the issue and provided ample time to take care of the issue.
When a tenant lives in a unit for a more extended period, it is likely that they are going to want to make alterations to the unit in some way. The most common form of alterations are typically done to the door. Most tenants will like to add a lock to the door or change the one that is already there to give them more peace of mind when they are at home. Security is essential, so if there are any rules or regulations that the tenant must follow when it comes to changing the locks, make sure that it is written down in this section. Most landlords will not have an issue with the tenant adding a lock to the door, but they may request that they are provided with the keys to the new lock when it’s installed.
Other alterations that the tenant may want to do in the unit may have to deal with updating the appliances, changing the light fixtures, and changing the color of the paint on the walls. Some landlords will take care of any of these changes that will need to be done over the time that the tenant is living in the unit. If there are any regulations that the tenant will need to follow when it comes to the painting the walls, then they will need to be listed in this section as well so that the tenant can refer back to it occasionally.
Notice of Entry and Property Access
When the landlord needs to make repairs, or they need to do an inspection in the unit that is being rented, they are most likely going to need access to the unit. Of course, this can be easily accomplished when the tenant is at home, but in some cases, the landlord may need to request key access from the tenant before they enter the unit. According to statute 383.615, in the state of Kentucky, the landlord must provide the tenant with a notice of at least two days before they can enter the premises. This does not include emergencies, but this way the relationship between the tenant and the landlord remains in good standing.
Typically, the landlord will not just enter the unit without prior permission, but in some cases, the tenant may be in trouble, and the landlord will use their key to gain access to the unit. When there is not an emergency, the landlord must send a notice out to inform the tenant that they will need access to the unit soon, and it must provide them at least a 48-hour window of time in case they would like to be home during the appointment.
Pets are a very common concern for many tenants, especially those who already have pets that live with them. Many tenants will ask about pets and whether or not they are allowed on the property before they move in, but it is always best to make sure that any rules or regulations that deal with pets are listed in this section of the document. Some landlords will only allow cats on the premises because they are smaller and do not typically leave a mess outside that other tenants will need to deal with. Some landlords will allow dogs, but they will only allow certain breeds so that all of the tenants on the premises will feel safe while they are outside.
When it comes to pets, there may be a limitation on the number of animals that are allowed to live in each unit as well. This will help to keep the pet population in the community under control to some extent. Sometimes a landlord will charge a small monthly fee for each pet, which can add up quickly, so make sure to consider any fees that may apply before committing to the unit. This money can be used to take care of any damage that the pet caused while living in the unit. Make sure that all information that deals with pets will be included in this section of the lease agreement so that the tenant will know what to expect if they attempt to adopt a pet while residing there.
Legal Restrictions and Rules
When a tenant moves into the property that they are renting from the landlord, there are likely going to be other legal restrictions and rules that they must follow. This can include things like keeping hazardous material off of the property so that it does not present a risk to other tenants who live on the property. It can also include smaller regulations like smoking. There may be smoking areas where the tenants are permitted to smoke, but there may also be rules about smoking in the common areas that are shared with other residents. If there are locations that the tenants will need to know about, make sure to list them here.
Another thing to place in this section will be the time that the neighborhood is to be quiet. To help respect the time that most people sleep, some landlords will set a quiet time for the community. If there is one that applies to this area, make sure to include it in this section so that the tenant can be aware of it before moving in.
As the landlord, it’s also important to provide and disclosures that apply to the building. If the building that the tenant is moving into was built before 1958, there is going to be a lead-based paint disclosure that the tenant will need to know about. Lead-based paint can be harmful to some individuals, so include any pamphlets and information on the topic that is available for the tenant to read.
As with any document, the final portion of the residential lease in Kentucky will include a signature from both parties indicating that they have read, they understand, and they agree to the terms of the document. The parties will be required to print their names as well in this section and add the date that the document was signed. If the landlord requires a guarantor for the lease to be finalized, then their information will need to be included as well, and once all of the signatures are in the proper location, the agreement that the document discusses will be legally binding.