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 :)

Background

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

Revisions

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
Get our free newsletter

Join 200,000+ landlords

  • ​Tips to increase income
  • Time-saving techniques
  • ​Powerful tools & resources
Topics:
  Laws & Regulations

76 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Belinda

    Hi,
    My landlord gave a key to my house to a family member without my knowledge or permission. This family member has now entered the house twice.. No notice and no knocking.
    I’ve never had any complaints

    or
    Anything to give them suspension of any wrong doing.
    What can I do to prevent this from happening again and what can I do for them doing this?
    Thank you so much.
    Belinda, Nevada

  • Gretchen H

    Our landlord is constantly on the property as he has a “work shop” there. This has never been an issue. However, he keeps allowing his family and friends to come to the property to basically hang out and play around (property is 2 acres). The other day he was gone and 2 of his apparent friends showed up asking where he was. I was home alone with my child and it scared me as I have no idea who these people are. When I told him this was an issue, he told me people will be here all the time and if we don’t like it, we need to move. It’s always in the yard and not the house but I know this has to be a violation of tenants rights. Anyone have information on his?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Gretchen,

      Unless there is some sort of waiver in the lease about a shared space, and that notice is not required, then a landlord (and his friends) would need to provide to provide “proper notice” before walking on the property. With that said, not all states have a notice requirement. Check your state laws to determine if your state is applicable: https://www.landlordology.com/state-laws

      Good luck to you.

  • Teresa Mullins

    My landlord, who I have rented from month to month for 6 years in Columbia, Tennessee, wants me out by 28th of month, not court ordered just an eviction he emailed to me. There is no way I can be out by 28th of April. How can I get more time.

  • Dustin Milam

    I have rented my apartment for 10 months. There is no lease agreement or written rules. It’s agreed $400.00 a month plus $300.00 deposit. I have been short some months but have gotten caught up and paid in full and current. The landlord says I can’t operate a business from my apartment and says I can’t have clients or company in my home. Can he legally say this to me in Louisville, Kentucky?

  • Andrew Flagg

    Why does not tenant responsibilities include paying the rent?

  • Cara

    Is the landlord allowed to go on the property during a forcible detainer filng

  • Mrs. K

    I have been tenant in Overland Park, KS Section 42 apartment for past 4 years. Quiet, always paid my rent in full & on time. The day after I accepted Landlord’s renewal offer wherein I objected the 5% rent increase, asked for one months free rent to offset recent wrongful tow & one uninhabitable week without a/c, & advised again that frequently accessing my apartment for non-emergency reasons without notice was not ok, I received Notice of Non Renewal & Lease Termination with threat of legal action unless I vacated 29 days later. I know this is retaliation, but what damages can I legally recover & how? Aren’t there rules about tax credit recipients who incur needless expenses? BTW, property owners daughter is their lawyer. I get 0 reply

  • April

    We recently moved into a new dwelling. While moving, we noticed the place had roaches and fleas. We immediately notified he landlord. After spraying the problem still exists. I have asked to be released from the lease and to have my security deposit and first month’s rent refunded because the landlord did not provide a safe and healthy environment. Is this a reasonable request?

  • Matt

    Hello, I currently live in federal government housing provided to me for my job since I am in a remote location, and there are no other homes within 100 miles to rent. I am paying a bi-weekly rent that comes directly out of my paycheck.

    Being that I am a federal employee, and the house I am renting is federal government property on federal land, does the federal government follow the state’s landlord tenant laws? or is URLTA the governing document since the Law of the Land prevails over state laws, being that my housing is federal, and my landlord is the Federal Gov’t.

    I am researching my housing rights, and want to know what laws to follow. Thanks -Matt

  • jc blank

    i had a tenant that filed bankruptcy right after moving from my unit. i have $5000. in damage and they owe $2000 in back rent. i was named as a creditor in the bankruptcy. is there anything i can do to get my $ back for damages? i have looked everywhere for an answer.

  • Gwen Strain

    Can a landlord change the terms of a six month lease 3months later. Plus give a five day notice on the second day of the month. Plus refuse to except rent after the fourteen of the month .

  • Douglas

    I have a roommate that his stuff into a room that he rented from but is saying he was not able to move his stuff into the room. My question is, would his rent start from the day he moved his in regardless of whether the room was ready or not .

  • Ray

    My rent is due on the 4th of each month. However, on July 4th the office was closed. When I tried to pay the rent. The office told me that they put up notices on each door and to the office as well. Notifying each tenant to pay the rent on the 3 or they will be charged with late fees of up to $200.00. Is there anything I can do about this, or something that can help me with this situation?

  • Dennis Allen

    Is this leagal? ac unit in my place wasn’t working since I moved in and I asked them to fix it. The first ac tech told us they needed a new unit. Then they sent 3 different techs between may and July and the house was over 100 degrees inside. They supplied one portable ac unit that could get one room about 80 degrees at night. The house was a 3 bedroom home. I had to look for alternative housing and I was taking care of my father after a heart attack . At the end of July the ac unit was replaced. I asked for alternative housing and a prorated rent and the landlord refused. And there was a leak under the new ac and it never got fixed. The same thing was happening. I refused to pay rent in oct and I was evicted Oct 19th. I fired black mold.

  • Stacy

    My landlord takes MONTHS to get things fixed that are filed for maintenance request, some are NEVER taken care of. I have an on-growing mold problem in my kitchen that I have filed maintenance requests(multiple) for and nothing is ever done. I have gone to their office and tried a face to face conversation but still nothing. What do i do? According to what I have found online I supposedly cannot report a mold or unhealthy living condition because my rent is not $200 or less. What kind of sense does that make? They have also taken my property off of my patio and thrown it away just because “the owner didn’t like it” and they refuse to reimburse me. There is nothing in my lease that states i couldn’t have patio furniture. Please help!!!

  • June

    I am leasing a 3rd floor, furnished studio apt in PA. Rent is $685 per month (utilities included). Is it legal under PA law for the Landlord to charge a $2,000 security deposit? Landlord states reason for high security deposit is because my credit score is rated fair, a lower security deposit requires good credit score rating.

  • Destanie Armijo

    My boyfriend and I had decided to go with a 6 month lease in the state of New Mexico , without the landlord going over the lease length, I realized we signed for a year, which is not what we wanted to do. It’s been 10 days since we signed the lease, and I now knoticed the error. Is there anything we could do

  • Angela Garnett

    My management abuses entry. Sometimes I receive a notice a week before, sometimes a day, too many times none. Either way there is no time frame given to know the range of hour, so I’ve been in the shower or sleep and startled by their attempt to enter. They will knock but entry is quickly started after he knock, not allowing time for me to dress. Due to past disturbing events, I use door security poles when home. This recently happened and I received a letter the next day stating they will shove through if they need to do so. I called them today, and advised if I am not prepared for their entry I cannot remove the pole at the time attempted. I was advised that they don’t have the time or date to advise.

    • Douglas Gsrcia

      As far as I know, all landlords are required to post 24 hour notice and it has to have the date and time of entry on it. You might want to check in your area with the local housing authority or look online for the landlord tenant rights for your area

  • william john winslow

    I lived in an apartment just short of 8 years. I asked if smoking was allowed before signing any lease agreement,it was. Now after living there for almost 8 years the land lord has claimed smoke damage to walls and carpet odor. So she has kept our combined 400$ deposit. I see no language in my lease saying she can collect damages from smoking in a smoking allowed apt. Can she do this? Bill Urbandale,Iowa

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Be short, sweet and to the point.