LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lexington's leaders have banned source of income discrimination, joining Louisville as Kentucky's second city to do so. 

What You Need To Know

  • The City of Lexington has banned source of income discrimination by landlords

  • Kentucky Tenants is one group that has advocated for ordinances like it for the last two years

  • The new ordinance will go into effect March 1

Adrian Williams is a volunteer with Kentucky Tenants in Lexington. She said it started with her visiting a potluck and ended with her being part of the renters' rights advocacy group since May 2022.

She has since joined the group at city council meetings and sit-downs with leaders and property owners to push for tenants' rights. 

“I imagine that I'm going to rent for the foreseeable future, possibly the rest of my life," Williams said. "Volunteering with a housing advocacy group means that I am making a direct difference not only in my life, but in my family's life and my community’s life." 

City leaders voted 13-2 Thursday to ban landlords from refusing lease agreements to people who use housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance payments for rent. 

“A ban also on discrimination ordinance was passed in Louisville back in 2020 and was just passed here in Lexington," Williams said. "There's been a lot of hope up until now that we can spread this across Kentucky so that it's not just these two cities that have these kinds of protections."

Williams said it’s something her group has rallied and spoken out in favor of celebrating. 

The ordinance will go into effect March 1 unless lawmakers in Frankfort move forward with House Bill 18, which would prohibit local governments from adopting bans on the source of income used to pay rent.

Lexington becomes Kentucky's next city to move on housing security for tenants. The Fair Housing Council helps with protection of rights for those in public housing. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

Lexington's Fair Housing Council assistant director Drew Bowling said this affects groups they support and feel it could impose on other civil liberties granted through decades in advance. 

The group focuses on equal opportunities and protecting the social and human rights of tenants.

"The bill essentially waives of all the civil rights of the people who hold vouchers," Bowling said. 

Bowling said this could still present future legal challenges for both renters and landlords.

“There is still some solution and some help for them as well," he said. "One thing might be to contact us or our attorney because, again, there might be some violation of federal laws that the state law might give an impression of ... there might still be some liability if landlords in those two cities still are trying to refuse voucher holders in their applications."

Williams said until then, Kentucky tenants will keep up public outreach and service.

“We all have these stories, and we share them," Williams said. "Something that is a saying that we have is ‘turning private pain into public power,’ and that's what we do in our space.”

The group meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Friends Meeting House off Price Avenue.

Lexington Landlord Association member Jim Mckenzie said right now, property owners are following a final decision on state legislation and will continue following local and state landlord regulations.