- What are the housing protections in Kentucky?
In 2017, the Kentucky legislature passed a law that gives new rights, responsibilities, and protections for tenants and landlords who have a rental agreement and are affected by domestic violence.
- What types of rental agreements do these protections apply to?
These protections are for leases or rental agreements that were entered into or were renewed after June 29, 2017.
- Does this law apply in all counties in Kentucky?
- Who does this law apply to?
The law applies to you if you are a “protected tenant.” The person you got your order of protection against is called the “named individual.” These are the terms used in the new law.
- Who is a “protected tenant?“
You are a “protected” tenant if you are a tenant, applicant for housing or a tenant with a minor child and you have:
- an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) or Temporary Interpersonal Order (TIPO) prohibiting all unauthorized contact (contact without permission); OR
- a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) or Interpersonal Protective Order (IPO) prohibiting all unauthorized contact. These are long term orders entered after a court hearing that you went to, and the other party was served, and the judge made a ruling; OR
- a criminal pre-trial No Contact Order issued by a court in a case where you were the victim of violence.
- Who is the “named individual?”
The “named individual” is the person who did the violence against you. They are named in your court order of protection and are ordered to have no contact with you.
- If I am a “protected” tenant, how does this help me?
Your landlord can’t do any of the following solely because you are a "protected" tenant:
- Terminate (end) your lease
- Refuse to renew your lease
- Refuse to enter into a lease with you
- Retaliate against you (get back at you)
If there are other issues, these things can happen, but it can’t be because you are “protected.”
- If I have a lease or rental agreement and get a long-term domestic violence order or interpersonal protective order and I want to move, can I break my lease or rental agreement?
Yes, but you must:
- Give the landlord written notice that you are ending your lease or rental agreement by moving out. And that you are moving out 30 days after you give them the notice. The notice should be dated and signed by you.
- Give the landlord a copy of your domestic violence order or your interpersonal protective order. Be sure to keep a copy of everything you give to the landlord and make a note of date and time you gave it to them.
- If I have a long-term domestic violence order or interpersonal protective order first, then enter into a lease or rental agreement, but now want to break the lease or rental agreement, can I?
Yes, but you must:
- Give the landlord written notice that you are ending your lease or rental agreement by moving out. And that you are moving out 30 days after you give them the notice. The notice should be dated and signed by you; AND
- Give the landlord a copy of your Domestic Violence Order (DVO) or your Interpersonal Protective Order (IPO); AND
- Show the landlord that your concerns about your safety came up since you entered into the lease or rental agreement. For instance, you moved to get away from the abuser, but they found where you live and are now stalking you. Be sure to keep a copy of everything you give to the landlord and make a note of date and time you gave it to them.
- Once I tell my landlord that I want to end my lease, do I still have to pay rent?
Yes. You have to pay any rent due under your lease up until the date your lease is terminated. And it must be paid on the normal date that your rent is due. If the lease end date is not at the end of your normal rental period, the amount you owe for that month may be pro-rated. This means you pay just part of your rent.
- Can my landlord give me a bad credit report, a bad character reference, or charge me extra fees because I end my lease early?
If you are a protected tenant and follow the rules to end your lease or rental agreement, your landlord can’t give you a bad credit report, a bad character reference, or charge you extra fees.
- If I want to stay in my home but want to change the locks to be safe, can I do that?
Yes. If you are a protected tenant, you can re-key the lock you have it replaced with a new one. You must tell your landlord you are doing this and you have to pay for it. If your landlord asks you for a copy of the new key, you have to give them one.
- If the abuser (the “named individual”) is on the lease or rental agreement with me, how does the landlord deal with that?
The landlord can:
- refuse to let the abuser have access to the property, including not giving them a new key
- end the lease with the abuser
- evict the abuser
- go after the abuser for unpaid rent or damage they caused if they violated the order of protection
- Can a landlord make me sign a lease that says I can be evicted if I call the police for help?
No. A landlord can’t put anything in your lease that gives them permission to end your lease or fine you if you call the police for help during an emergency. But this law only applies for leases or rental agreements that were created or renewed on or after June 29, 2017.
- What if I am a protected tenant but the named individual [my abuser] has an order of protection against me?
In this situation, the protections in this factsheet DO NOT apply to you.
- What should I do if my landlord tries to evict me in court because of domestic violence?
Go to the court hearing. Take a copy of your protective order with you. When the judge asks, explain why you think the eviction is based on the acts of violence that caused you to get the protective order.
- If I live in federally subsidized housing - like public housing or Section 8 - do these protections apply to me if I am a protected tenant?
Yes. There are also additional kinds of protections available to you if you live in federally subsidized housing. To learn about those protections, read the section on federally subsidized housing on this website.