Top 3 Things You MUST Know About the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

Top 3 Things You MUST Know About the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

As a landlord, particularly if you plan on managing a rental property yourself, it is essential that you read The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) in full. This resource is full of crucial information related to the landlord-resident relationship and is an important tool in your property management toolkit.

While we highly recommend you read the whole document at some point, today we’re shining a spotlight on three specific elements we believe cause the most confusion: security deposits, evictions, and required landlord-provided services. Let’s dive in!

But First, What is The Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act?

Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

The Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (URLTA) is a federal law that provides a framework for regulating the relationship between residential landlords and residents. It aims to establish fair and consistent standards for both parties, ensuring that their rights and responsibilities are clearly defined and enforced.

URLTA covers various aspects of the landlord-resident relationship, including lease agreements, security deposits, rent payments, repairs and maintenance, and eviction procedures. It typically addresses things such as the landlord's obligation to provide habitable premises, procedures for handling security deposits, and requirements for terminating a lease.

While the specifics of the URLTA may vary slightly from state to state, many jurisdictions have adopted some form of this legislation or have incorporated its principles into their own landlord-tenant laws. The URLTA is a critical resource for landlords and residents alike, offering guidance on how to navigate the complexities of rental agreements and resolve disputes fairly and equitably. 

Security Deposits

Navigating the intricacies of security deposit charges can feel like walking through a legal minefield. But fear not! We’ll break it down together.

According to the law, your security deposit can't exceed one month's rent unless specific conditions are met. These conditions include accommodating pets, alterations to the property (excluding modifications for residents with disabilities), or elevated liability risks for you or the property. Essentially, it boils down to cases where the potential risks or alterations justify a higher deposit.

Our stance? Be VERY careful when considering a deposit greater than one month's rent. You should always research any aspects like pet accommodation or substantial property alterations.

Now, if you find yourself contemplating an increase in liability beyond the norm, consider establishing a minimum liability threshold. Document your rationale for considering residents below this threshold, or alternatively, opt for a safer route by seeking alternative residents altogether.

Come move-out time, you'll need to reconcile the security deposit. State law can differ but usually mandates returning the deposit to the resident within a number of days post-move-out, usually accompanied by an itemized list of any deductions made. Ensure this documentation is sent to the resident's forwarding address or the property address if a forwarding address isn't provided.


Navigating the eviction process can be a challenge for landlords, but it's crucial to ensure that every step is taken within the bounds of the law. Making a misstep along the way could mean starting the process all over again, which is nobody's idea of a good time.

Let's walk through the basics of the eviction process, but remember, this overview isn't exhaustive. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the law or seek legal advice to ensure everything is done correctly.

Evictions typically arise for two main reasons: failure to pay rent or failure to meet other lease obligations, known as "material non-compliance" or "material breach." Regardless of the reason, the eviction process follows a similar trajectory.

The initial step involves delivering a termination notice either in person or via certified mail. This notice must contain all the necessary information outlined by law, and it grants the resident seven days to rectify the lease breach. Placing the notice on the door isn't the end-all; it's merely a warning shot, giving the resident a chance to fix the issue.

After serving the notice, the hope is that the resident will comply. If not, and the seven days elapse without resolution, the next step is filing a lawsuit. If you're a company, legal representation is necessary at this stage. However, if you're an individual landlord, you may file the lawsuit yourself, though consulting with a lawyer is advisable.

Once the lawsuit is filed, the resident will be served, and they have a window to respond. If they don't, victory is yours. If they do, a trial ensues. At trial, presenting all relevant evidence to support your case is crucial. While it's not a dramatic courtroom saga, having your documentation in order can expedite the process.

The next step is typically obtaining a writ for eviction. This document authorizes the sheriff to remove the resident from the premises. Remember, leave this task to the professionals—don't attempt to carry out the eviction yourself.

Evictions aren't pleasant for anyone involved, but by following the correct procedures and seeking legal guidance when needed, you can navigate the process with clarity and efficiency.

Required Landlord-Provided Services

Ensuring your rental property meets legal standards isn't just about following the rules; it's about providing a safe and habitable living environment for your residents. Let's break down the key responsibilities outlined by law into four main categories:

Health and Safety

This should go without saying, but unfortunately, some landlords need the reminder. As property managers, our top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents. Any issues that could jeopardize their health or safety must be addressed promptly.

Habitable Conditions

Building on the previous point, we believe in going beyond mere compliance with the law. Our philosophy is simple: if it's not a condition you'd be comfortable living in yourself, it's not suitable for your residents either.

Essential Systems

The law explicitly mandates that landlords provide and maintain essential systems such as electrical, plumbing, sanitation, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Our rule of thumb? If it's a major system or part of the property's structural integrity, it's your responsibility to ensure it's in good working order.

Heat and Hot Water

While it may seem redundant to single out heat and hot water, they're essential enough to warrant their own mention. These utilities must be consistently available and properly maintained according to legal requirements.

These are just some of the primary obligations outlined by the law, but they're the ones we encounter most frequently. We strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with this section of the law before leasing your property—not only for your protection but also for the well-being of your residents.

Final Thoughts: Understanding The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Our goal is to demystify the rental process and provide landlords with actionable steps to maximize the value of their rental properties. By prioritizing the health, safety, and comfort of your residents, you'll not only meet legal requirements but also foster positive landlord-resident relationships and ultimately enhance the value of your investment.

If you’re interested in calling in professional property management support, consider Evernest! We have helped countless landlords build mutually beneficial long-term resident relationships and generate income through seamless property management. 

Find the Evernest team in your area and get started today!