Information from the County Attorney's Office
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney
An interested reader of this column sent me an e-mail recently with a very good suggestion to write about the topic of landlord/tenant law.
The law surrounding landlords and tenants can be quite different depending on where you live. A property being rented can either be governed by common law or by the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA) as found in Chapter 383 of Kentucky Revised Statute. For example, if your rental property is in Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Woodlawn, Southgate, Melbourne, or Silver Grove, the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act is the applicable law in the landlord tenant relationship. If you’re outside of these areas in Campbell County, such as Alexandria, the common law applies.
Depending on the applicable law, there are some significant differences in the rights, duties and remedies of landlords and tenants. However, there are some universal rules that apply to all leases. Specifically, there is no right to “self-help.” What this means is there is no right, without a court order, of the landlord to forcibly evict a tenant, turn off electricity or water in order to get a tenant to move, or lock a tenant out of the rental property. If you attempt “self-help” in Kentucky, the penalties can be steep and include attorney’s fees.
Although a landlord does not have the right to “self-help,” the landlord can get a court order to have a tenant forcibly evicted provided that the landlord has taken the proper steps under the applicable law. After giving proper notice, a landlord may file a “forcible detainer” action in District Court to have a tenant evicted. In this type of action, the tenant must receive three (3) days notice before the court date. Our District Courts regularly hear and rule on these types of cases on a weekly basis.
This forcible detainer case only addresses whether the tenant should be evicted and not what type or how much damages there are owed to either party. The issue of damages can be determined, by election of either the landlord or tenant, in a subsequent case.
Landlord/tenant law can be very complex. The information provided is a summary of general landlord/tenant law. I highly recommend that you consult an attorney if you find yourself embroiled in a landlord/tenant dispute.
If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.