||As your Attorney General, I am committed to ensuring the Louisiana Department of Justice serves all of our State’s people.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. most eloquently said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice every-where.” This is especially true with your rights to live where you choose. Fair housing should never be denied to any person because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. My Office will enforce the law and ensure justice is served. I hope you find this brochure helpful, as it answers some of the most common questions from landlords and tenants. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact my office.Our State is great because all of its people have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as your Attorney General–I will do all that I can to make Louisiana an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.
7WHAT IS A DEPOSIT?SECURITY/DAMAGE DEPOSITINSPECTION AND CHECKLISTWhen a landlord agrees to reserve rental property, the land-lord will probably ask the tenant for a deposit. This transaction obligates the tenant to occupy the property on the agreed date, and it obligates the landlord to have the property fit for occupancy on the agreed date. If the tenant fails to occupy the property on the agreed date, the tenant could lose the deposit and may be liable for damages. If the landlord fails to fulfill his obligation, the landlord would have to refund the deposit and may be liable for damages.
A security or damage deposit may be required by the landlord to satisfy nonpayment of rent or any other default, including physical damage to the property. The landlord may keep the deposit for such defaults. However, normal wear and tear is not deductible. If the deposit is not enough to cover all damag-es, the tenant may be held responsible for additional damag-es.
Before putting down a deposit on the property —the tenant should inspect the property for any visible defects, damage, or missing items. When the tenant signs an agreement to lease the property, the landlord and the tenant should agree on what problems are to be corrected before the tenant moves in.
Some landlords offer a pre-printed checklist for noting any ex-isting faults present before occupancy. If a checklist is not pro-vided, the tenant may write one and make two copies —one for the landlord and one for the tenant. The checklist should be signed by both the tenant and the landlord to prevent future disputes.Do not sign the lease or leave a deposit unless there is an agreement in writing that the property will be in the agreed condition on the date of occupancy.
A lease is an agreement which legally binds both the landlord and the tenant to the terms for a specified period of time¹. The lease may be oral or written². However, oral agreements may be impossible to prove in court should a dispute arise.
The terms and conditions of the lease are usually regulated by the lease agreement. Fixed Term Lease: The duration of the lease may be agreed upon by both the landlord and the tenant for a fixed period of time³. A fixed term lease usually runs for a year but can be for any time period stipulated in the agreement not to exceed 99 years. Month-to-Month Lease: If the duration of the lease is not stated in the agreement, it is presumed by law to be month-to-month5 . The tenant or the landlord may terminate or change the terms of the lease with ten days written notice before the end of the month6. Renewal Clauses: Some leases contain automatic renewal clauses, which renew the lease for another term equal to the original term. For example: if the tenant has a one year lease that expires on December 31, the lease will automatically re-new for another full year with the same terms7 . Either the tenant or the landlord can avoid automatic re-newal by giving written notice of his/her intent to vacate. Most leases require written notice for termination at least 30 days prior to the current lease’s expiration.
Other leases contain automatic month-to-month renewal clauses. Again, all lease terms will remain the same8. Any al-teration to these terms (i.e. changes in the amount of rent, ter-mination of the lease, etc.) must be made with the proper no-tice as provided for in the lease.Without A Renewal Clause: If the tenant remains in the apartment for one week after the lease expires9and there is no renewal clause, then the lease will automatically renew on a month-to-month basis¹º. In this situation, any change to the terms of the lease must be made with ten days written notice prior to the end of the monthly period.
Tenants can co-sign a lease with a roommate(s). In this case —either or both tenants can be held responsible for the entire rent, damage, or any other breach of agreement. Therefore, if a roommate moves out or causes damage to the apartment —the remaining roommate can be held responsible for all the damages.
To deliver the property to the tenant at the agreed time and in good condition for its leased purpose¹³. To maintain the property in a suitable condition for the purpose for which it was leased14. To protect the tenant’s right of peaceful possession for the du-ration of the lease15. To refrain from making any alterations to the property16. To pay taxes, assessments, and other charges to the proper-ty17. If the landlord sells the property during the term of the lease, then the new owner may change the lease terms or evict the tenant. In order to prevent this, the lease must be recorded in the parish where the property is located18. The tenant may have an action against the landlord for loss sustained as a result of the sale apartment.
Many leases require that requests for repairs be made in writ-ing. Regardless, all requests should be made in writing and/or in the presence of witnesses. Tenants are strongly advised to keep a record of all maintenance problems, repairs, and fail-ures to repair.The landlord must maintain the property by making all neces-sary repairs26. The tenant is responsible for the damages caused by his fault, the fault of his guests, and those exceed-ing normal wear and tear27.If the repair cannot be postponed until the end of the lease, then the tenant must allow the landlord to make these repairs —even if they are an inconvenience. However, a reduction in rent may be possible28.If the landlord refuses to maintain the property or to make nec-essary repairs after being notified, the tenant has several op-tions:The tenant can file a dispute with Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Consumer Protection Section at 800-351-4889 or www.AGJeffLandry.com.If there is a structural or hazardous defect, the tenant can complain to the local building officials.If a serious problem is ignored, then the tenant may termi-nate the lease29. Terminating the lease requires substantial proof of the landlord’s failure to perform his/her obligations. Terminating a lease without sufficient cause will result in serious financial and legal consequences. Therefore, the tenant should seek legal advice before terminating a lease due to improper maintenance