Tenants have Rights Too

by Marty Keenan

The Kansas Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, K.S.A. 58-2540 spells out the duties of a landlord and a tenant in a residential rental situation.

Here are some pointers:

The landlord does not have the power to kick you out for non-payment; only a judge does

The landlord must post a three-day notice on your door if you are delinquent on rent.  You then have three days to pay the rent in full.  This doesn’t mean you have three days to get out.  It means you have three days to pay back rent.

The landlord cannot evict you by himself.  He must have an agreement from you or a court order.

A landlord cannot terminate a lease by changing the locks or turning off the power or water.  The landlord cannot willfully diminish services such as electricity, gas, water, or other essential services to the tenant.

To kick you out, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit in District Court.  You must then be served papers and be given your day in court – a chance to explain to the judge why you should not be evicted.  If the judge evicts you, the sheriff is given an order to remove you from the premises.

Under K.S.A. 58-2553 the duties of the landlord include:

A duty to comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.

Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating ventilating, and air-conditioning appliances.

 The tenant cannot be punished for telling the government that the rental does not meet the city code for health and safety.

The landlord cannot retaliate if a tenant complains to a governmental agency about violations applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety. K.S.A. 58-2553.

If there is a material noncompliance by the landlord affecting health and safety, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions.

Few tenants do this, but one must write a letter to the landlord specifying the breach of the rental agreement and state the rental agreement will terminate upon a periodic rent-paying date not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice.

 If the landlord initiates a good faith effort to remedy the breach within 14 days after receipt, the rental agreement shall not terminate. This gives the landlord the chance to fix the problem.

If the landlord has breached the lease, sending a text to the landlord does little good.  Instead, a letter sent by U.S. mail, or a return receipt requested will accomplish more.

Make sure you inspect the place you are going to rent before you decide.

You have the right to inspect the rental unit yourself before you rent it.  Within five days of the beginning of the rental agreement, the landlord must show you the place and make any notations regarding damages that were there before you move in.  it is unlawful for a landlord to make you take a unit that you have not toured.

Leases can only last for one year

A lease on a residential unit in Kansas can only last for one year.  At the end of that year, it turns into a month-to-month lease.  To end a month-to-month lease, the tenant must give the landlord written notice of their intent to terminate the lease in 30 days.  The tenant must give notice 30 days in advance and cannot terminate except at the end of the next month.

For instance, if a tenant wants to cancel a month-to-month lease, they must notify the landlord in writing before the last month starts. For instance, if a tenant wants to terminate a lease on September 30, the landlord must be given written notice in August, even on the last day of August.

Generally speaking, rent-to-own contracts rarely end well.

“Rent-to-Own” housing contracts rarely end in a satisfactory way for the renter.  Only a tiny percentage end up owning the house. If someone offers you a rent-to-own situation, money spent having a lawyer inspect the contract is the best money you could spend. These only work when the landlord has integrity and the contract reflects that fairness.

published courtesy of GraceMed, where Keenan serves as Director of Legal Services.