Avoid legal disputes with tenants by knowing and complying with Kansas landlord-tenant laws. As a property manager, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities, as well as the rights of your tenants. These tips will help you avoid some of the common legal problems faced by landlords in Kansas.
Know and Follow Anti-Discrimination Laws
When you’re trying to rent out a vacant unit, make sure you are familiar with fair housing laws, and you understand what you can or cannot say and do when choosing a tenant. There are guidelines for advertising your rental, the questions on your rental application and what you ask potential clients when you screen them face to face. Violations of these laws can lead to expensive lawsuits and discrimination complaints.
Follow Kansas Rent Rules
Kansas landlord-tenant laws dictate how much time you can wait to begin eviction of a tenant for nonpayment of rent, and how much notice you have to give if you have to increase the rent.
Comply with Kansas Security Deposit Limits and Return Guidelines
This is one of the biggest causes of landlord-tenant disputes, so make sure you know how much you can legally charge a tenant for a security deposit. There are limits based on whether the unit is furnished or not, and if the tenant has a pet. There are also rules specifying when a security deposit has to be returned to the tenant after they move out, and reasons for keeping the deposit.
Provide Habitable Housing
Property managers and landlords are required by Kansas law to maintain rental properties in livable condition. This is known as the “implied warranty of habitability.” Failure to provide proper maintenance and repair of the rental unit could give tenants the right to terminate their lease early or pursue other legal options.
Create a Detailed Legal Written Agreement for Lease or Rental
This is for your protection as well as the tenants’. The lease agreement specifies all the critical details of the rental contract. This is a binding legal agreement for both parties, so it’s important to make sure you don’t include any illegal clauses that violate tenants’ rights, and that you include all required legal disclosures. This document can also help you avoid future disputes with tenants by clearly stating their rights and responsibilities. Failure to prepare a legal lease agreement could make it ineffective and unenforceable by law.
Provide all Disclosures Required by Law
There are several legal disclosures landlords in Kansas are required to provide to tenants, including ones about lead-based paint. Costly fines could result for failure to make these disclosures known.
Respect the Privacy of Your Tenants
This refers to the legal requirement of landlords in Kansas to provide reasonable notice to tenants before entering a property. Written notice is recommended, as well as a clause in the lease agreements. Landlords have the right to enter rental units for things like maintenance, repairs, or event to show it to a prospective tenant, as long as they notify the tenant beforehand.
Don’t Retaliate Against Tenants who Exercise their Legal Rights
Retaliation could include evicting or raising the rent of a tenant who complains about a needed repair. To protect yourself from false retaliation claims, it’s a good idea to keep written records of how repairs and other requests from your tenants are handled.
Know and Follow the Exact Procedure for Evicting a Tenant
Landlords must follow Kansas law regarding the process and timing for terminating a tenancy. These laws are specific, and even include how much notice a tenant must be given before the landlord can file for an eviction for nonpayment of rent.
Comply with Local Housing Codes
Many cities in Kansas, including Hutchinson, have housing codes. These codes provide specific standards for proper maintenance of rental buildings and properties. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to know your city’s housing codes and make sure all your rental units are in compliance. Failure to do so could result in expensive fines.
Take Advantage of Available Legal Resources for Landlords
The internet can be a great free resource, as long as you use reliable sources. Government agencies, such as HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and state and local fair housing agencies, usually have publications and information about fair housing laws. You can also check the Kansas Attorney General’s Office Website for guides about landlord-tenant laws.
One final note: Landlord-tenant laws can change, and they can vary by location. If you have specific legal questions or issues, it’s best to consult a local attorney who’s experienced with landlord-tenant laws and guidelines in your state and city.
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