The Eviction Process in Kentucky: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers

An overview of Kentucky eviction rules, forms, and procedures.

To evict a tenant in Kentucky, a landlord must follow certain rules and procedures set forth by Kentucky law. Because an eviction is a legal action and the landlord must win an eviction lawsuit to evict the tenant, it is very important that the landlord carefully follows all the proper rules and procedures for an eviction. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Kentucky.

Notice for Termination With Cause

To evict a tenant in Kentucky, the landlord must first have legal cause (a good reason recognized by law). The most common reasons for eviction are the tenant's failure to pay rent or the tenant's violation of the lease or rental agreement. Once there is legal cause, the landlord can terminate the lease or rental agreement by giving the tenant notice. The type of notice required will depend on the reason for the eviction.

  • Seven-Day Notice to Pay Rent: When a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord can give the tenant a seven-day notice informing the tenant that if rent is not paid within seven days the landlord will terminate the lease or rental agreement. If the tenant does not pay rent during the seven-day period, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant in court. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383.660(2).)
  • 14-Day Notice to Remedy: When a tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, the landlord can give the tenant a 14-day notice to remedy. This notice allows the tenant 14 days to fix the lease or rental agreement violation, or the landlord will terminate the tenancy. If the tenant does not fix the violation, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant on the fifteenth day. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383.660(1).)
  • 14-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: When a landlord has already given the tenant a 14-day notice to remedy within the past six months and the tenant commits the same lease or rental agreement violation, the landlord can give the tenant a 14-day unconditional quit notice. This notice must inform the tenant that because the tenant committed the same violation within a six-month period, then the landlord is terminating the tenancy at the end of 14 days. The landlord does not need to give the tenant the opportunity to fix the violation. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383.660(1).)

Notice for Termination Without Cause

When a landlord does not have legal cause to terminate a tenancy, the landlord must wait until the tenancy expires before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, such as with a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice.

Month-to-Month Tenancy

When a Kentucky landlord wishes to end a month-to-month tenancy but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, the landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord wishes to end the month-to-month tenancy and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 30 days. When the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by that time, the landlord can consider the tenant a holdover tenant (a tenant who remains in the rental unit after the tenancy has expired) and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383.695.)

Fixed-Term Lease

When a landlord wishes to end a fixed-term lease but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, the landlord must simply wait until the end of the tenancy before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord is not required to give the tenant written notice to move unless the terms of the lease or rental agreement specifically require the landlord to do so.

Tenant Eviction Defenses

Even though a landlord might have legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant might also have a valid legal defense against the eviction. Legal defenses include the landlord discriminating against the tenant or failing to maintain the rental unit. If a tenant chooses to fight the eviction with one of these defenses, it could increase the cost of the eviction lawsuit and allow the tenant more time to remain living in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Kentucky has more information.

Removal of the Tenant

The only way to remove a tenant from a rental unit is for a landlord to win an eviction lawsuit in court against the tenant. Even then, the landlord does not have the authority to physically remove the tenant from the rental unit. That can only be done by a law enforcement officer with a court order. The state of Kentucky has made it illegal for the landlord to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit, and the tenant can sue the landlord for an illegal eviction.

After the tenant is evicted and has moved out of the rental unit, the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property. Unlike most states, Kentucky does not have any laws regulating what the landlord should do with tenants' abandoned property. That does not mean that the landlord should immediately dispose of it, though. The best practice for the landlord would be to send the tenant a written notice detailing the items left behind and give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property, then the landlord can dispose of the property in any legal manner (such as, disposing of it or selling it).

Rationale for the Rules

Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Kentucky law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction might not be valid. Although these rules and procedures can seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.

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