Alaska is attractive to renters for its natural beauty and unique atmosphere. However, as with every state, Alaska comes with its own set of rental laws that landlords must follow. Here are some important facts that landlords must know about the law in Alaska.
Rent and Fees
Collecting payment from your tenants is a crucial responsibility as a landlord, but each state has rules regarding the manner in which you do so.
In Alaska, there is no statutory limit on late fees, so landlords can send a late rent fee notice as soon as a tenant misses a payment.
Rental application fees are also unregulated, nor is there a mandatory grace period, so landlords can choose how much to charge based on what’s best for their business.
Unless otherwise specified, rent is due at the beginning of each month. If the landlord chooses to have a different due date, they must put it in writing in the lease agreement.
If a landlord in Alaska fails to provide crucial services like hot water, heat, plumbing, or other necessities, the tenant can notify the landlord in writing to inform them of the issue. The tenant can then deduct the cost of that service from rent, find substitute housing, or recover damages.
If the landlord commits a different noncompliance with either the lease agreement or the law in a way that threatens health and safety, the tenant can deliver a written notice to the landlord. This notice should inform the landlord that if they do not remedy the condition within ten days, the lease agreement will terminate in 20 days. However, if the tenant chooses to repair and deduct, they cannot also terminate the lease.
Most states have eviction notice requirements regarding late rent, lease violations, and illegal activity, but eviction laws in Alaska are unique because they specify procedures for when a tenant does not pay utilities. If this is the case, the landlord issues a notice for unpaid utilities, and the tenant has three days to either pay their amount, or five days to quit. This notice applies when a public utility service stops servicing the unit due to the tenant’s inability to pay their utility bill.
If the tenant is late on rent, the landlord must provide them seven days to pay the amount or quit the property before evictions proceedings can legally begin.
A tenant breaching the lease agreement calls for a notice for that violation, and they have ten days to cure their breach or quit. If the same tenant breaches the same lease term again within six months, the landlord can send a five-day notice to quit, without any opportunity to cure.
Unfortunately, some tenants can pose a threat to the health or safety of other tenants and need to be removed. If this is the case, the landlord may issue an unconditional notice to quit according to Alaska landlord tenant laws and give the tenant anywhere from 24 hours to five days to quit the unit. Actions that warrant an unconditional notice to quit include inflicting substantial damage to the premises or engaging in illegal activity on the property.
Fair Housing Protections and Tenant Screening Procedures
In addition to the seven federally protected classes (race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, and disability), Alaska prohibits housing discrimination based on marital status, pregnancy, and ancestry.
Alaska background checks are allowed to be used during tenant screening, but landlords should be sure to follow HUD recommendations closely to be sure they’re being fair when screening their applicants.
It’s crucial that you know the relevant security deposit laws in your state as a landlord. In Alaska, you may not charge more than two months’ rent except when rent exceeds $2,000 a month. Also, if your tenants live with a pet, you can charge an additional pet deposit as long as it does not exceed one month’s rent.
Although landlords are not required by law to pay interest on their tenant’s security deposits, if the deposit does earn interest and both the landlord and tenant have not made alternate arrangements, the interest earned belongs to the tenant.
Landlords are required to keep security deposits either in a trust account, savings and loan association, or with a licensed escrow agent. They also must be kept separate from other funds.
Lastly, if the tenant causes damage to the property that exceeds normal wear and tear, the landlord can itemize these damages and the corresponding deductions in a written notice and mail it to the tenant after the conclusion of their tenancy. The remainder of the deposit and the itemized list of deductions must be sent within 30 days.
If the information above seems daunting, don’t worry. Other experienced landlords will most likely be willing to help you out, and if you have trouble understanding state real estate laws, always consult with a real estate attorney. Violating state laws can get you in hot water with your tenants, so be sure to follow them to the best of your ability.