Protecting Student Renters
There are currently only two states in the United States that do not afford its citizens basic standards of habitability: Arkansas and Kentucky.
On December 2, 2014, the WKU Student Government Association passed Resolution 12-14-F, which was a “Resolution to Support the Adoption of the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) in the Bowling Green/Warren County Community.” (http://www.wku.edu/sga/accountability/legislation.php)
Across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, most renters reside in unsafe living conditions, having little to no legal rights that they can claim if a dispute arises between them and their landlords. In Bowling Green, Kentucky, location of the WKU Bowling Green Campus, there are no laws in place that codify clear legal rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants. Indeed, in most places in Kentucky (116 counties), the lease is the law. If a security deposit is stolen, a bug infestation occurs, your landlord enters uninvited, or no clause in your lease preventing retaliatory eviction, most renters have to deal with the consequences without any recourse for action.
Due to this dangerous environment, the Barren River Area Renters’ Handbook was prepared by the Homeless & Housing Coalition of South Central Kentucky to educate renters about what to look for in their lease before signing, what to do during residency if problems arise, and how to properly vacate the area.
Please click this link to read/download the Barren River Area Renters’ Handbook: https://www.wku.edu/alive/communityresources/documents/renters_handbook.pdf
There is, however, a greater remedy to solve the issue of dangerous living conditions for renters in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
According to the Healthy Homes Coalition of Kentucky, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1984 (URLTA) is an act that clarifies and codifies the legal duties of landlords and tenants entering into residential lease agreements. Kentucky state law allows cities and counties to adopt it as law, and several communities have: Lexington, Louisville, Somerset, and several communities in Northern Kentucky, for example. But landlords and tenants in 116 counties are still without the protections and stability provided by URLTA.
URLTA has many positive elements, such as striking a proper balance between the property rights of the landlord with the health, safety, and privacy rights of the tenant; however, URLTA is not a mandatory law, meaning that individual communities must “opt-in” for its provisions to take effect.
Some of the benefits of URLTA are listed below:
URLTA clarifies standard agreements & expectations for renters & landlords.
Under current law:
-Renters are vulnerable to retaliatory evictions for reporting unsafe living conditions to their local code enforcement office. URLTA protects renters from retaliatory evictions.
-Entry without notice is legal. URLTA protects tenant's privacy rights by requiring a 48-hour notice for non-emergency landlord entry.
There is also strong support for URLTA across Kentucky. Some organizations who have demonstrated support are found below:
-Kentucky Commission on Human Rights called for URLTA implementation statewide in a February 16, 2015 resolution
-Through the Healthy Homes Coalition, community and advocacy organizations support URLTA as an important and necessary solution for access to safe and healthy housing in Kentucky.
-Healthy Homes Members include: Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky; Kentuckians For The Commonwealth; Kentucky Equal Justice Center; Homeless & Housing Coalition of South Central Kentucky; Metropolitan Housing Coaliton; Housing Partnership, Inc.; Daniel Boone Community Action Agency; Fairness Campaign; Hazard-Perry County Community Ministries; Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Coalition for the Homeless; The Fuller Center for Housing; Lifeskills, Inc.; Lexington Fair Housing Council; Hope’s Wings; and the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy