Maintaining a rental property can be a lot of work, even with newer properties. Expect everything from the unexpected, such as damage due to poor weather, to accidental damage to the property from tenants and their guests. When a rental property needs repairs the landlord is typically responsible for the repair work. However, repairs in Kentucky can also be performed by the tenant under certain conditions.

Lease language will include a general prohibition on the tenant making any repairs or alterations to the premises without the prior written consent of the landlord. It’s a good idea to include specific examples of repairs and alterations, such as painting, wallpapering, demolition, carpentry, installation of fixtures, or any other changes to the premises. LeaseRunner’s Kentucky Residential Lease includes this general prohibition, along with some more specific cases.

Keys and Security Systems

This clause specifically instructs the tenant to not alter or install any locks to the premises, or alter or install any security system, without prior written consent from the landlord. If the tenant is allowed to make such alterations they need to give the landlord a copy of the key or keys to locks, as well as instructions on how to disarm any altered or new security system.

Landlord’s Right to Repair

Kentucky includes this specific statute, KRS § 383.665, to give the landlord the right to make a repair if there is noncompliance by tenant with their maintenance obligations that materially affects health and safety and that can be fixed by repair, replacement, or cleaning. This statute comes into effect when the tenant has been informed of noncompliance and they fail to comply in a timely manner. In that case the landlord can enter the premises and make the repair, submitting an itemized bill for the actual costs or the fair and reasonable value of the work performed. The costs are considered rent on the next date when rent is due. If the rental agreement has been terminated payment from the tenant is due immediately.

Tenant’s Repair and Deduct Remedy

The tenant is also provided with a legal path to make a repair in the event the landlord fails to do so after written notice of a material noncompliance that affects health or safety. Per KRS § 383.635, if the reasonable cost of compliance is less than $100 or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent, whichever amount is greater, the tenant can notify the landlord of their intention to make the repair. If the landlord does not reply within 14 days of receiving the notice the tenant can cause the work to be done in a workmanlike manner and submit an itemized accounting of the actual cost or fair and reasonable value of the work done and then deduct that amount from the next rent payment. This repair and deduct remedy is only available to the tenant if the repair was not due to negligence on the part of the tenant, a member of tenant’s family, or an invited guest.