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Kentucky Property Management Laws

Managing properties is complex, especially when you handle properties in different states. States and sometimes counties have different rules than their surrounding areas, so it is important to ensure you know exactly where to find the laws you need to access for your area.

This guide is designed to provide you with an overview of the realty laws in Kentucky and direct you to the appropriate statutes to help you figure out the issues you may face as a property manager or tenant.

Key Points

  • 1 Most property managers in the state of Kentucky are required to hold a real estate broker license.
  • 2 Security deposits are required to be held in a separate bank account.
  • 3 Property management companies help landlords with their responsibilities, which include all maintenance and repairs on their properties while they are being rented as well as access to needed utilities.
  • 4 Property managers and landlords must have an itemized move-in inspection and move-out inspection report to keep any security deposits to rectify damages incurred during the tenancy.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Property Management Laws Overview in Kentucky

324.046Licensing Laws

Code Description
Rental Application Laws
383.580 Security Deposit Laws
383.660 Lease and Termination Laws
383.565 Rent and Late Fee Laws
383.585 Disclosure Laws
383.595 Landlord Responsibility Laws
383.595 Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

Licensing Laws

Are property managers required to have a real estate license in Kentucky?

Yes, anyone engaged in property brokerage services including the receiving of rent must be a licensed real estate broker or a sales associate licensee. Both holdings require the agent undergo certified real estate training:

  • Real estate brokers must undergo at least 21 credit hours of training at an accredited college and have practiced real estate as an associate for at least two years, no less than 20 hours per week. A broker may need only one year of experience if they have an associate’s or higher degree in real estate.
  • Sales associates licensees are required to have undergone at least six hours of training in a certified real estate school.

Rental Application Laws

What application fees are allowed? 

There is no statute in Kentucky that defines the maximum amount a property management company or owner can charge for application fees, but county and local laws may apply.

Can a landlord run a background check without the tenants’ knowledge? 

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consent must be received before obtaining any background report related to credit score and financial history. 

What discrimination laws exist regarding renting in Kentucky?

Under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1968, no landlord may discriminate in housing based upon sex, gender, religion, nationality, color or family status. 

Security Deposit Laws

Are additional move-in fees allowed? 

There is no statute on additional move-in fees, but landlords will often charge tenants extra for pet deposits.

Is there a limit on the security deposit amount that can be charged? 

There is not a limit on the security deposit in Kentucky, but markets typically ask for one to two times a single month’s rent.

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a specific way during occupancy?

According to statute 383.580.1, all security deposits must be deposited and held in an account that is only used for the purpose of holding security deposits.

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit after move out?

Statute 383.580 does not define the length of time a landlord may take to return the tenants owed security deposit. If there is a refund owed to a tenant after leaving, the owner of the property must mail a notice with the amount of the refund owed. If the tenant fails to respond, the landlord may keep the money after 60 days with no repercussions (383.580.7). 

What are the reasons why a landlord can withhold part or all of the security deposit? 

If a tenant leaves the property with damages or required cleaning, the landlord may use the security deposit to return the home to a habitable and marketable shape. A landlord may also keep the deposit needed to cover the cost of any unpaid rent charges after 30 days (383.580.6). There must be a move-in and move-out inspection on record for the landlord to be able to withhold any of the deposit.

What is the penalty if the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit? 

When a landlord fails to uphold the terms of a lease, including the surrounding laws regarding when to return security deposits, the tenant may seek to recover any damages (383.580.2)

Laws About Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed? 

There can be weekly, monthly or pre-negotiated leases with a set amount of time, such as a year. If a tenant lives in a place where rent is due weekly, the lease is on a weekly basis. Otherwise, unless expressly outlined in the lease, it will always be considered a monthly lease (383.565.3)

Leases are not permitted to contain certain stipulations (383.565.1), such as:

  • Requiring a tenant to waive or forgo any rights under the Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act
  • Authorizing anyone to confess judgment on a claim arising out of a rental agreement, such as ongoing real estate court issues like eviction
  • Requiring tenants to pay the landlord’s legal fees
  • Any stipulation limiting the amount of money a landlord must pay for any costs regarding the terms of the lease
  • Any penalties including eviction for calling peace officers or any other emergency personnel to the residency (383.302)

What happens if the tenant violates the lease? 

Tenants in violation of their lease may be evicted if the offense is not remedied (383.660). Landlords must provide notice to a tenant and offer them a chance to rectify the situation, whether it is paying rent owed or something else, such as removing an unauthorized guest or pet.

How much notice is required for a month-to-month lease termination? 

If a lease is violated through non-payment of rent, a landlord may deliver a 7-day notice to quit. If it is a termination due to property damage, there can be a 14-day notice sent to the tenant. If the tenant is able to repair the damages, a landlord may revoke the notice (383.660.1). If this occurs twice in a six-month period, the landlord is not required to give the tenant an opportunity to repair the break of agreement, and the tenant must leave after 14 days, as well as pay the undue rent or for any damages done to the property.

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty? 

If a landlord does not carry through on their promise to provide safe, habitable housing to the tenant, the tenant is able to attempt to rectify the situation with the landlord and break the lease penalty-free if the landlord does not comply (383.625). 

How much notice do service members have to supply before terminating the lease? 

Special rules apply to a service member who is on active duty for at least 90 days, providing they meet certain qualifications, that prevent them from incurring any penalties for breaking rental agreements. Tenants must be able to prove that they signed a lease before entering into active duty in order to receive protection.

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence? 

KS 383.300 defines special protections for Kentucky residents who are under domestic violence or interpersonal protective orders and sign into a lease on or after June 29, 2017, such as:

  • Landlords may not discriminate against providing housing to a person because they are under the protection of a restraining order.
  • If a tenant wishes to change their locks, they may do so at their own expense and inform the landlord or the change. The landlord is entitled to a new key if they request one from the tenant.
  • The locks may be changed, and a new key need not be furnished to the offending party, even if they are on the lease, if a restraining order is brought against a current resident of the dwelling. The offending individual will still be held liable for the rent they owe pursuant to the lease agreement, despite this action (383.300.4).
  • The lease may be terminated by the tenant if they provide 30 days’ written notice with a copy of the written order to the landlord.
  • Unless a court order permits access to the residency, the offending person on the restraining order may be denied access by the other tenants and the landlord, for any reason. 
  • If a tenant decides to break the lease due to the home not being safe from the threat of the offender, they will not be subject to any rents except the prorated amount for the days they stayed there or negative credit implications.

It is important to note that the offending person on the restraining order is not permitted to also be a protected tenant and is subject to eviction. 

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant? 

Tenants can be evicted under statue 383.660 for failure to pay rent and 383.665 for damage to the property through a failure to maintain the premises. If the eviction is because of non-compliance with material responsibilities, a 14-day notice must be sent before beginning repair and eviction proceedings. If the non-compliance is regarding paying rent according to the lease, there only need be a seven-day notice, and the lease can terminate 14 days after receipt of this notice if the problem is not remedied. Landlords do not need to offer the option to remedy when sending out a notice for the same problem the second time in a six-month period (383.660.1).

Laws About Rent and Late Fees

When is rent considered late and can be assessed a late fee? 

The terms of the lease agreement outline the day in which rent is due, generally the first of the month. There is no grace period for late rent payments in Kentucky (383.565.2). A return check fee may also be assessed to tenants in the amount of $50 (514.040.1).

When can a landlord increase rent? 

There is no statute in Kentucky that defines the amount of notice a tenant needs before a landlord can increase the rent rate. However, if a landlord has received complaints from the tenant in the past year and raised the rent prices after learning of the complaints made against them, it is up to them to prove this is not a retaliatory action (383.705). 

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants? 

No, there is not a set maximum that landlords can charge for rent. This figure is determined by the size, location and market of the property in question. 

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee? 

No, late fees are assessed as outlined in the signed lease agreement between the renter and property manager.

Is there a limit on how much of a late fee the landlord can charge tenants? 

No, there is no statute regarding the maximum amount that can be charged for a late fee.

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property? 

Statute 383.585.1 states that owners must furnish tenants with the name and address of who is permitted to manage the premises. 

Can the owner designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures? 

If the owner is not a resident of Kentucky, they may appoint an agent who does reside in the state to serve disclosures and other legal documents (383.540.2).

What disclosures related to mold are landlords required to supply? 

There are no regulations in Kentucky that require landlords to disclose the presence of mold. Be sure to watch for signs of mold during the move-in inspection.

What disclosures related to lead paint are landlords required to supply? 

The EPA requires landlords to disclose to tenants the presence of any lead-based paint in buildings constructed before 1978.

What disclosures related to damages are landlords required to supply? 

Statute 383.580.2 states that prior to move-in, a landlord is required to provide a comprehensive list of all current damages to the property that could provide a basis to charge a tenant against their security deposit at move-out.

Laws About Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry? When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry? 

A tenant may not refuse entry to a landlord if given proper notice, which in Kentucky is two days. If the landlord believes in good faith that there is an emergency, they do not need consent to enter the premises (383.615).

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable?

Landlords must take all steps necessary to comply with building code and health regulations in the state of Kentucky. Any repairs needed to be done to the premises at any time, as well as any grounds upkeep required to keep the common area and property in a fit and habitable condition, is the sole responsibility of the landlord (383.595).

What amenities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

The landlord is responsible to supply and maintain any amenities promised in the lease agreement such as elevators, as well as maintain in good and working order all systems in the home including:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Heating
  • Air-conditioning
  • Ventilation
  • Sanitation

What utilities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

In Kentucky, landlords are required to provide hot running water and heating (between the months of October 1 and May 1), providing the residency does not have a direct connection to the appropriate public utility company, in which case the tenant would apply for services with that company (383.595).

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection? 

There is no statute requiring a certificate of inspection, but a tenant is able to demand repair of any unsafe or unsanitary state of their residence by making a request to the landlord (383.625) and filing to move without penalty if it is not remedied. Additionally, an itemized move-in and move-out inspection report is required by law (383.580.2) in order for a landlord to keep any portion of a security deposit to repair damages.

Is the landlord required to supply locks and keys? 

There is no statute defining the provision of locks and keys, aside from those outlined under protections for domestic violence victims.

Are retaliatory actions prohibited? 

No, landlords may not retaliate against tenants for complaining to licensing boards or becoming a member of a tenant union (383.705). Retaliatory actions include:

  • Disconnecting utilities
  • Threatening eviction
  • Increasing rent
  • Decreasing services such as waste removal
  • Threatening any negative action against a tenant, including those described

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

What type of maintenance is the landlord responsible for? 

A landlord is responsible for all ongoing maintenance and repairs needed to keep residencies in fit and habitable conditions (383.595).

How long does the landlord have to make repairs? 

If a landlord does not respond to a request for maintenance or repairs, a tenant may initiate the repair process on their own (if it will cost between $100 and no more than half the cost of one month’s rent) or move out without penalty (383.635). If the landlord does not respond within 14 days, the tenant may move forward with the repairs and deduct the cost from their rent.

What type of maintenance is the tenant responsible for? 

Tenants are responsible for cleaning and using the appliances in a building in a reasonable manner. Tenants must also never deliberately damage the premises and are required to conduct themselves in a manner that does not disturb other tenants (383.605).

Is the landlord responsible to fix damage caused by tenants?

As long as a landlord has completed a satisfactory move-in and move-out inspection report, the tenant is liable for reimbursing the landlord for all damages incurred during their tenancy. 

When does a landlord have to return and/or lower rent due to diminished rental value? There is no state law that requires a landlord to lower the rent if a property has a lower rental value, but county and local rules may apply.

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions? 

Tenants are able to file complaints against substandard conditions to HUD, which would then be investigated. There is no statute regarding an official inspection report to be furnished by the landlord. 

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord? 

If the landlord fails to maintain the premises in accordance with KS 383.595 and that neglect creates the need for repairs, the tenant may notify the landlord that they plan to undergo the needed repairs at the landlord’s expense. The cost of these tenant-initiated repairs can range from $100 to half of one month’s rent (383.635).

When is a landlord required to pay for relocation assistance? 

If a residency becomes substandard due to a lack of essential services, such as electricity or heating, the tenant may relocate to a new residency without being held liable for rent charges while the housing is uninhabitable (383.640).

Who Is Exempt?

Certain facilities do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Real Estate Board and, therefore, are not required to abide by these regulations in their entirety (383.535). Such locations are managed by separate entities with regulations unique to the Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act in Kentucky. For help navigating the laws regarding residency in such a place, seek the advice of certified legal counsel. These places include:

  • Medical facilities, including those for geriatric communities
  • Religious and educational institutions, including fraternity houses
  • Residencies where the people living there are owners or are successors to the owner
  • Transient lodgings like hotels
  • Employee housing
  • Occupancy by the owner in a condo or a cooperative when the resident is the owner of a proprietary lease
  • Residents in buildings located on land dedicated to the production of food, timber or tobacco.

Additional Rental Law Resources for the State of Kentucky

These additional resources can help to educate tenants, landlords and property managers on the Landlord-Tenant Act in Kentucky and provide assistance with questions and concerns as well as referrals to available social services programs.

Name Phone Number Description
Kentucky Landlord-Tenant Guide N/A A comprehensive guide to all statutes related to renting in Kentucky.
Housing Discrimination Hotline (800) 669-9777

Provides education regarding tenants’ fair housing rights and takes complaints against property management companies and landlords.
HUD Housing Counseling N/A Offers resources and information regarding real estate issues in Kentucky for homeowners and renters.
LIHEAP Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (800) 456-3452 Provides financial assistance for low-income residents that need help paying utility bills. This program has limited resources, and funds are not always available.
Kentucky Housing Corporation N/A Offers financial assistance programs to renters, as well as resources and education about quality housing and self-sufficiency.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.