House approves rental property protection bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — Tenants plotting revenge on a landlord who evicts them might think twice before doing so if Senate Bill 11 becomes law.

The Kentucky House approved SB 11 Friday. If the Senate concurs on a slight change made by the House, it will be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.

SB 11 would specify in statute that intentionally causing significant damage to a rental property is criminal mischief.

“It’s not for things like nail holes or common wear and tear,” said Rep. C. Ed Massey, R-Hebron, on the House floor. “This is for circumstances where premises have been left with food in refrigerators that were unplugged, holes punched into walls, feces on the floor and all kinds of bizarre scenarios that cost these rental property owners thousands upon thousands of dollars to repair.”

Massey said SB 11 would make intentional damage totaling to more than $1,000 a class D felony.

Although criminal mischief law already addresses this issue to a degree, Massey said this would give property owners the opportunity to seek restitution for the damage.

In explaining her vote, Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, D-Louisville, expressed concern about how this bill might impact domestic violence victims since holes punched in the walls and food left in unplugged refrigerators can often indicate a domestic violence situation.

“They can easily be the situation of someone who’s fleeing their abuser, who has to flee very quickly, and then an abuse survivor who is on the lease with an abusive partner can be held liable for the damages that the abusive partner caused,” Cantrell said.

The House approved SB 11 by a 75-17 vote. It will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.

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