Kentucky Security Deposit Laws

In Kentucky, a landlord can charge a security deposit of any amount.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Kentucky’s Civil Code allows landlords to charge renters a refundable security deposit upon moving in. This deposit can be any amount, so long as it is specified in the lease agreement. Once the lease is over, the landlord has 30-60 days to return the deposit to the tenant. 
Security deposits are an unfortunate part of renting a property—they can be a significantly inconvenient added expense. Even worse, many landlords will be reluctant to return the deposit when they should. State laws usually protect tenants from having their deposits withheld without good reason. But since these laws are different everywhere, it can be tricky to know exactly what your rights are. 
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What is Kentucky’s law on security deposits?

In Kentucky, landlords are permitted to require prospective tenets to pay a security deposit. A deposit is required to be refundable in its entirety unless the tenant breaks the terms of the lease or causes significant damage to the property outside of normal wear and tear. 
While the deposit is in the landlord’s possession, the deposit amount cannot be spent, invested, or otherwise used as capital during the term of the lease. 
Kentucky security deposit laws are established by the
Kentucky Revised Statutes
, Chapter 383 Section 580 (
KRS § 383.580
) which specifies the rules for charging, collecting, storing, and repaying security deposits. 

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Kentucky? 

There is no limit to the amount that a landlord can charge for a security deposit in Kentucky. The deposit can be any amount, so long as it is clearly specified in the lease and the tenant willing signs. 
That said, landlords typically charge one to two months' rent as a security deposit, but this is not required. 

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Kentucky? 

Once the term of the lease is over and the keys have been turned in, the landlord must return your security deposit in 30-60 days—assuming you have paid all owed rent and have not broken the terms of the lease. 
The 60-day limit is the extended time frame allowed for the settling of any disputes. If the landlord notifies you that some or all of your security deposit is being withheld, the extra 30 days give you time to dispute those withholdings. 

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in Kentucky?

Normally a landlord is required to return the entire amount of your security deposit. There are, however, reasons why they could keep some or all of it. These reasons include:
  • Unpaid rent or charges
  • Serious damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear
  • If the tenant does not leave a proper forwarding address and does not respond to communications or request the deposit be returned for 60 days
  • Any legal reason which is specified in the lease and agreed upon by both parties beforehand 
Most protracted disputes regarding security deposits take place because of the definition of “normal wear and tear.” There isn’t a concrete legal definition for this phrase and people will interpret it differently. 
Normal wear and tear refers to the damages and decline in condition that can reasonably be expected from everyday use. Small floor scratches or carpet stains should usually be considered normal wear and tear. 
Damages that result from abuse, neglect, or irresponsible use would be considered to be outside of normal wear and tear. 
Key Takeaway All Kentucky security deposits have to be refundable. Your landlord can only make charges against your deposit for unpaid rent or excessive damages. 
MORE: How to find the best renters insurance

How to get your security deposit back in Kentucky

All too often landlords fail to return a security deposit within the legally required time frame. This may be a genuine oversight—or they may be hoping you will forget. In either case, there are some things you can do.
The first thing you should do is simply contact your landlord. Ask for the deposit back. If it was an honest mistake, they should return it after being reminded. If they were hoping you would just forget, and you make it clear that you have not, they will likely give up and return the money. It’s important that you make the request by email or text message—something written that you’ll have a record of. 
If the landlord refuses, things become a bit more tricky. Landlords are required by law to notify you of their intent to withhold some or all of your security deposit. They are also required to provide you (in writing) with a reason for the withholding. If they have not done so, they will not stand much of a chance if the issue goes to
small claims court
If they did notify you, you would have needed to submit a written dispute for any withholdings within the 60-day time frame. If that time has already passed and you have not yet submitted your dispute, it may be too late. 
MORE: Does Renters Insurance Cover Mold?

How to save money on car and renters insurance in Kentucky

When you move into a new apartment, you want to make sure your belongings are safe. One of the best ways to ensure your personal property is protected is by getting a renters insurance policy. 
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You can use your security deposit as the last month's rent, but only if both you and the landlord agree to do so in the lease agreement—or if the lease is terminated with a balance still outstanding and you do not demand your deposit back.
No. Unless there is some extraordinary damage or dirtiness to the carpet that could be feasibly be considered to be beyond normal wear and tear, your landlord cannot use your security deposit for carpet cleaning.
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