The Truth about the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) of 1972

Written on November 4, 2013 by , updated on December 14, 2015

URLTAThe Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA) was created to clarify, standardize, and modernize the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in the United States.

Though it’s a step in the right direction, the truth is that in 40 years, there are still plenty of states that have not adopted this Act.

Despite the best efforts of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), I believe that the US will never have uniform Landlord-Tenant laws unless Congress makes it mandatory.  Even then, Texas might disagree :)


The Act was assembled by the NCCUSL, and ratified the in 1972, with small changes made in 1974. URLTA consists of six topical articles and several subsections.

The URLTA is the closest document that we have to “Federal” Landlord Tenant Laws. However, state participation is encouraged but not mandatory, and therefore not all states have adopted this legislation.

Most states have adopted parts, if not all, of the URLTA. As of 2008, significant influence of this act can be found in the state statutes of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

Landlord Duties, URLTA Section 2.104(a):

  1. Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
  2. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
  3. Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;
  4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him;
  5. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal; and
  6. Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat [between [October 1] and [May 1]] except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.

Tenant Duties, URLTA Section 3.104:

  1. Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
  2. Keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
  3. Dispose from his dwelling unit all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
  4. Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
  5. Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
  6. Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so; and
  7. Conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with his consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb his neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

URLTA Outline and Topics

URLTA-TOCEach article discusses an important aspect of the landlord and tenant relationship.

  • Article I: General Provisions and Definitions
    • Part I: Short Title, Construction, Application And Subject Matter Of The Act
    • Part II: Scope And Jurisdiction
    • Part III: General Definitions And Principles Of Interpretation: Notice
    • Part IV: General Provisions
  • Article II: Landlord Obligations
  • Article III: Tenant Obligations
  • Article IV: Remedies
    • Part I: Tenant Remedies
    • Part II: Landlord Remedies
    • Part III: Periodic Tenancy; Holdover; Abuse Of Access
  • Article V: Retaliatory Conduct
  • Article VI: Effective Date And Repealer


The National Conference of Commissioners is currently revising the URLTA in order to account for changes to the industry over the last 40 years.  There are 13 articles in the draft revised URLTA (2013), but a final version has yet to be published.

The Uniform Law Commission hopes that with an updated version of the URLTA, more states will voluntarily adopt these regulations – and thereby creating a more uniform landlord-tenant system in the United States.

So What?

The URLTA is the foundation for many of the Landlord-Tenant laws in the United States. Many states have added more specific clauses into their own legislation – addressing their unique requirements.

By understanding the URLTA, theoretically you will have a grasp on the basic landlord-tenants laws in this country. The URLTA will provide you with the framework and background to understand the state or local municipality regulations that govern your rental property.

References Documentation

This article was written by Lucas Hall with assistance from Lydia Brian from Events in Scotland
photo credit: zachstern via cc
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