Tenant's Rights and Responsibilities
As a renting tenant, you have the expectation to be provided a safe and secure environment; the state of Kentucky has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Kentucky Revised Statutes 383.505 to 383.710) in order to provide certain laws regarding your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, as well as the rights and responsibilities of a landlord. A brief overview of some of the tenant rights and responsibilities is below, with help from the Office of the Attorney General, Jack Conway. Following the information, links are provided to the relevant Kentucky statutes, the website of the Attorney General, and the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
What are the responsibilities of the tenant?
As a tenant, you have the responsibility to pay your rent on time, follow the rules and regulations of the landlord, keep your unit as clean and safe as possible, avoid damaging or removing parts of the property, and respecting your neighbors’ and the communities right to peace and quiet.
What is a Lease?
A lease is a binding, legal agreement. It usually spells out the obligations of a landlord and a tenant to one another. A lease provides the express rights and responsibilities of a landlord and tenant and helps to provide both parties protection.
A lease should contain a description of the premises, the length of time the lease is to be in effect, the name and address of the landlord or owner, the amount of the rent, the rent due date, where rent should be paid, a notice of any late charges, termination requirements, the landlord's rules and regulations, and a description of which parties are responsible for payment of the utilities.
A written lease should be insisted on, and you should be sure to carefully read and understand the lease and its obligations prior to signing it.
What is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit serves as a damage deposit for the landlord's benefit should the unit have damages after a tenant moves out. The deposit also provides the landlord with assurances that the unit is going to be inhabited for a period of time.
Before paying a deposit, be sure to ask the exact amount of the deposit, the purpose of the deposit, what conditions may affect its refund amount, and when the refund can be expected after vacating the unit.
What if you need to move?
The lease you signed should have the requirements for notifying the landlord of your plans to move. If you do not have a lease, or it does not mention the requirements, give thirty (30) days written notice if you pay rent month to month, or seven (7) days notice if you pay rent week to week.
Who can enter your unit?
A landlord has the right to enter your unit for several reasons including the need to make repairs, to provide maintenance, as well as to show the unit to other prospective renters.
You have a right to privacy as the current tenant of the unit and the landlord should enter at times convenient to you when possible and also provide adequate notice when possible.
What if I want to sublet?
Your lease may not allow subletting under its rules and regulations; be sure to check the lease and discuss with your landlord prior to subletting. Be aware that if you allow someone to sublet, you may be responsible if they fail to pay rent or damage the property.
What if I am evicted?
A landlord may evict a tenant for several reasons, including failure to pay rent and breaking rules and regulations of the lease. In order to evict you, the landlord will go to a court to obtain an eviction notice. Prior to doing so, the landlord must inform you of his or her intention to evict you, such as with an eviction notice. Be sure to pay attention to those notices.
What if I am being discriminated against?
You cannot be denied housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status. If you feel you have been discriminated against, contact the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development.
Things to Consider:
- What sort of modifications are you permitted to do to your unit - can you paint or wallpaper the walls, hang pictures, have pets?
- Be sure to know who is responsible for repairs to your unit - how do you contact that person, when may you contact them?
- Inspect the unit prior to signing the lease. If you notice pre-existing damages and/or poor conditions, be sure to take pictures of them and make a list. Once you have made the list, both you and the landlord should sign and date it and keep a copy.
- Report problems to the landlord as soon as possible; the sooner you report, the less time you should need to live with the issues.
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