How much can I charge for rent?
Alaska doesn’t limit the amount of rent a landlord is permitted to charge. Therefore a landlord may charge whatever he feels desirable. Additionally, the state of Alaska has not introduced rent control or stabilization.
May I charge an application fee, late rent charge or a returned payment fee?
Reasonable cost should always be kept in mind when initiating any charges. There are no restrictions or limits placed on the collection of a late charge or application fee. However, a returned check fee may not exceed $30. The rental agreement may specify a reasonable percentage-per-day late charge but such a charge is limited by the state usury law to an annual interest rate of a maximum of 5 percentage points above the Federal Reserve discount rate, or if no precise rate is specified, 10.5%. Remember, an automatic late charge or NSF fee is not enforceable unless it has been agreed upon beforehand.
May I limit how many occupants are inhabiting the rental unit?
A landlord may limit the number of tenants or occupants he/she will permit to reside in the rental premises but the landlord should always remember to keep in compliance with any local occupancy rules.
How do I handle a security deposit?
The security deposit may not exceed an amount greater than two month’s rent unless your rental rents for more than $2000 per month. This includes any security deposit or pre-paid rent.
The landlord in Alaska who accepts pets (not service animals) may now accept a separate pet deposit in an amount equal up to one month’s rent. This is over and above the security deposit limitations. This pet damage deposit, however may only be used for damages caused by the tenant’s pet.
Do I need a separate bank account for the security deposit?
A security deposit whenever practical should be placed in one of the following: a trust account, bank account, savings and loan, or deposited with a licensed escrow agent.
It is important that all landlords understand that in the collections and accounting of security deposits, pre-paid rent and pet deposits; these particular designated funds may not be mixed (it must be kept separate from the landlord’s other money). However, one account may be set up for all tenants, the funds for EACH tenant must be accounted for in a separate way. Under no circumstance, may one tenant’s deposits be used or applied to another tenant’s deposit.
After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send their security deposit back?
If proper notice is given, landlords must return the security deposit or the balance of the security deposit with an accounting of the deductions within 14 days. If non-proper or no notice is given, the landlord has 30 days after becoming aware that the rental unit is vacated, or tenancy has been terminated in order to return the security deposit. Please Note: funds may be withheld from the security deposit to cover unpaid rent, or damages. "Damages" is defined as deterioration to the premises or contents of the premises, but doesn’t include "normal, non-abusive living" or any failure of the landlord to comply with the landlord's obligations.
May I charge my tenant for carpet shampooing?
When a landlord has the carpets cleaned by a professional before the tenant moves in, then the landlord may require that tenant to clean the carpets upon move-out. This should be provided in the lease so as not to leave any questions.
What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
Often a tenant forgets or neglects to provide a forwarding address. Additionally, making sure the timing to return the deposit is essential and often overlooked. Normal wear and tear is a term used and confused often especially in the realm of renting. The state of Alaska has defined “normal wear and tear as “without negligence, carelessness, accident, misuse, or abuse of the premises or contents” by the tenant or visitors.”
How can I end an Alaska lease agreement?
The lease that has a definitive end date dictates when the lease ends. In that case, the tenant is supposed to move-out at the end of the lease and follow any other instructions for notice. If a tenant is on a month to month lease, 30 days prior notification is required; week to week, then a 14 day notice would be needed.
Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.
How do I start an eviction if my tenant stops paying rent or creates a problem?
In Alaska, in order to begin proceedings for an eviction, the landlord must first serve proper notice. This notice is usually called a "Notice of Termination of Tenancy" or "Notice to Quit." The notice must explain what, if anything, the tenant can do to correct the problem and must also include the deadline (both date and time) for fixing the problem.
If a tenant is not paying their rent than a 7 day notice is required. The landlord may not include late fees or charges (only actual rent) when beginning the legal process to remove a tenant.
A general breach or material breach of a lease requires a 10 day notice (i.e. loud partying/ music or dangerous dogs on the premises in violation of lease) A 10 day notice gives the tenant an opportunity to cure. If that tenant cures the problem but re-offends within 6 months, than the landlord may issue a 5 day notice and evict without giving the tenant another opportunity for cure. Landlord may issue a 24 hour notice if tenant deliberately inflicts damages on premises in excess of $400.
It's important to keep a copy of any notices as landlords must show proof of service of all notices served. A notice to quit must be in writing and shall be served upon the tenant or person in possession by being either delivered to the tenant or person, left at the premises, or sent by registered/ certified mail.
If the tenant does not pay the rent, correct the problem or move out within the notice period (weekends and holidays are not excluded) then the landlord may file a lawsuit by completing a Summons and Complaint order and filing it in the district or county court of where the rental property is located. The court clerk assigns the hearing to be held at least two days after the summons and complaint are served on the defendant but not more than 15 days after the case is filed. The summons and complaint must be served on each of the named defendants by a process server or peace officer. The process server or peace officer will need to provide the landlord a notarized “Return of Service” which is required for court actions.
New legislation has provided for expedited evictions when a tenant or tenant's guests are involced in criminal activity or prostitution.
My tenant has not moved out and I was awarded possession by a judge. Can I lock my tenant out? How do I remove him?
A landlord should NEVER lock a tenant out or change the locks on the rental property! Once possession is granted to the landlord by the judge, the judge will order the defendant to leave the property by a specific date and time. If the tenant does not move out as ordered, the landlord may ask for a Writ of Assistance. An Order for Possession and a Writ of Assistance will take effect within 48 hours. If the tenant has not moved out or delivered possession, the Writ may be filed with the Alaska State Troopers, who will physically remove tenant. The Alaska Permanent Fund is an established fund set up and managed by a state-owned corporation, the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC). Landlord will now be able to attach a tenant’s Permanent Fund Dividend distribution if they have a judgment for unpaid rent or damages.
What do I do with the tenant’s personal items that are left behind?
A landlord must provide notification to tenant that unless he removes the property within at least 15 days, the landlord will sell it or, if valueless, otherwise dispose of it. The tenant may be charged for storage costs. After 15 days have passed, and the tenant has not removed their belongings, the landlord may sell, destroy, or otherwise dispose of it.
How long does the eviction process take?
It depends on many factors but generally it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to get possession. Under some circumstances like for those where criminal activity is concerned, expedited evictions are available. This is new as of September 15, 2014.
How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times a tenant will leave without notice and leave property behind. The best way for the landlord to handle this is to go through the courts. It is generally up to the judge to determine if a property is in fact abandoned.
Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
Landlords must give reasonable notice (24 hours) except in cases of emergency. A landlord may only enter with the tenant’s consent, but the tenant may not unreasonably withhold consent.
What do I do if my tenant files for bankruptcy?
The procedures a landlord should take will be determined by bankruptcy court laws. A Landlord usually will proceed with a relief from the “stay” deeming the tenant responsible for rent incurred during the pendency of bankruptcy proceedings. This is a complicated procedure and warrants at least a consult with an attorney.
Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.