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Statewide Protections Sought for Kentucky Renters

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - A handful of communities in the Bluegrass State, including Kentucky's two largest cities, have adopted a law to help protect renters.

Known as URLTA, short for the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, it clarifies the legal responsibilities of both landlords and renters in a lease. HB 380, a bill to expand the law statewide, is expected to be taken up today by the House Judiciary Committee.

"URLTA isn't about granite countertops and vaulted ceilings. It's about getting what you paid for," said Angela Briggs, a renter in Glasgow. "These renters are paying for a safe home, for a home that's not going to impact their health in a negative way."

Briggs said she's had "wonderful experiences" as a renter but knows that too many others have not. She is a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a grassroots organization pushing to standardize leases statewide so renters and landlords know what to expect, regardless of where they live. But some landlords already have voiced concerns that the law could be overly burdensome.

Briggs said she became interested in the issue in 2013 when she took a class at Western Kentucky University that helped draft a renters' rights handbook. She said she heard "horrific stories" from renters she talked to.

"We heard everything from plumbing issues to electrical issues to black mold, snake infestation, landlords coming in while people were asleep in their bedrooms because they didn't have to give the 24 hours' notice," she said.

URLTA requires a 48-hour notice for non-emergency landlord entry and protects renters from retaliatory evictions. Briggs said the law also can speed up the eviction process in cases where it is warranted.

HB 380 is scheduled for a hearing upon adjournment of the House today. Its text is online at lrc.ky.gov.


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