Renting Or Leasing A Home

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
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About Issues With Renting A Home

When renting a home, tenants can face a range of issues that can cause inconvenience, frustration, and even legal problems. It's essential for renters to be aware of their rights and responsibilities, thoroughly read and understand their lease agreement, maintain open communication with their landlord, and seek legal advice if necessary. Being proactive and informed can help tenants navigate these issues effectively and protect their rights. 

What You Need To Know

Renters should familiarize themselves with state rental laws and regulations to understand their rights and responsibilities as tenants. This includes knowing laws related to security deposits, repairs and maintenance, termination procedures, and eviction processes. Louisiana has specific state regulations and laws that govern rental housing.

Here are some key aspects of Louisiana's rental housing regulations: 

  1. Security deposits: Landlords can collect security deposits from tenants. Generally, the deposit must be returned within one month after the lease termination. 

  2. Lease agreements: While oral leases are permitted, it is advisable to have written lease agreements to clearly define the terms and conditions of the tenancy. The lease should include details such as the duration of the lease, rent amount, payment due dates, and any specific rules or restrictions.

  3. Rent and rent increases: There are no specific statewide regulations on rent control or limitations on rent increases in Louisiana. However, lease agreements should clearly state the rent amount and any provisions related to rent increases.

  4. Habitability and repairs: Landlords are responsible for providing rental units that meet basic habitability standards. This includes maintaining the property's structural integrity and ensuring the availability of essential services such as heating, plumbing, and electricity. Tenants should promptly report any necessary repairs to the landlord.

  5. Entry to the rental property: Landlords have the right to enter the rental property for specific reasons, such as making repairs or conducting inspections. However, they must provide reasonable notice to the tenant before entering, except in cases of emergency.

  6. Discrimination: Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on protected characteristics, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status, under federal and state fair housing laws.

  7. Evictions: If a tenant violates the terms of the lease agreement or fails to pay rent, landlords must follow the proper legal procedures for eviction. This typically involves providing written notice to the tenant and pursuing a court order if the tenant does not comply.

You can learn more about state regulations and laws covering rental housing by visiting the resource, Differences In Landlord-Tenant Law In Louisiana

Tenants have certain rights and responsibilities that can vary depending on their lease agreement. Here are the main things tenants can expect:

Tenant Rights

  1. Livable Conditions: Tenants have the right to a rental unit that is safe, well-maintained, and has working utilities.

  2. Privacy: Tenants should be able to live without their landlord entering their unit without proper notice or invading their privacy.

  3. Notice Before Entry: Landlords must give notice before entering the rental unit, except in emergencies.

  4. Repairs: Tenants can request repairs for essential services, and landlords are generally responsible for making those repairs.

  5. Security Deposit Protection: Tenants should receive their security deposit back, minus any deductions, within a month after the lease ends.

  6. Protection Against Discrimination: Tenants are protected from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, disability, and other protected characteristics.

Tenant Responsibilities

  1. Paying rent: Tenants must pay rent on time as agreed upon in the lease.

  2. Maintenance and cleanliness: Tenants should keep the rental unit clean and undamaged, beyond normal wear and tear.

  3. Reporting damages and repairs: Tenants should inform the landlord promptly about any damages or repairs needed.

  4. Following lease terms: Tenants are expected to follow the rules and restrictions outlined in the lease agreement.

  5. Proper notice for lease termination: Tenants must provide adequate notice to the landlord if they plan to end the lease, as specified in the lease agreement.

  6. Compliance with laws: Tenants must obey all relevant housing, health, and safety laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels.

Landlords in Louisiana have certain rights and responsibilities based on the law and the lease agreement. Here are the main things landlords typically have:

Landlord Rights

  1. Collecting rent: Landlords can collect rent from tenants as stated in the lease agreement.

  2. Enforcing lease terms: Landlords can enforce the terms and rules in the lease agreement. 

  3. Entering the property: Landlords can enter the rental property for specific reasons, like repairs or inspections, as long as they give reasonable notice to the tenant (except in emergencies). 

  4. Eviction: Landlords have the right to evict tenants who violate the lease, don't pay rent, or engage in problematic behavior. However, they must follow the proper legal procedures for eviction. 

  5. Security deposit: Landlords can ask for a security deposit to cover unpaid rent or damages. there are rules about how much can be charged and when it can be returned. 

  6. Tenant screening: Landlords can screen prospective tenants, checking their background, rental history, and income before deciding to rent to them. 

Landlord Responsibilities

  1. Providing habitable premises: Landlords must maintain the rental property in a safe and livable condition, including necessary services like plumbing and heating. 

  2. Repairs and maintenance: Landlords are generally responsible for making repairs unless the tenant caused the damage. 

  3. Security deposit regulations: Landlords must follow specific rules regarding security deposits, including returning them within a certain time frame and deducting only allowed expenses. 

  4. Fair housing compliance: Landlords must follow fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics. 

  5. Tenant privacy and rights: Landlords should respect tenant privacy and avoid unauthorized entry or behavior that interferes with their rights. 

  6. Compliance with laws: Landlords must follow all applicable laws and regulations regarding rental properties, including building codes, safety standards, and landlord-tenant laws. 

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law to combat housing discrimination. It prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. The law ensures that all individuals have equal access to housing opportunities and are not unfairly treated or excluded based on certain protected characteristics. 

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to refuse to rent or sell housing, set different terms or conditions, deny services or facilities, or provide additional housing privileges based on protected categories. It also prohibits discriminatory advertising and practices such as steering individuals towards or away from specific neighborhoods based on their characteristics.

The law applies to a wide range of housing-related transactions, including private housing, public housing, and housing operated by organizations receiving federal financial assistance. It is enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which investigates complaints of discrimination and takes appropriate legal action against violators.

Pre-Rental And Moving-In

Pre-Rental And Moving-In

The pre-rental and moving-in period refers to the time before a tenant officially moves into a rental property. During this period, prospective tenants typically engage in various activities to secure a suitable rental home. Throughout the pre-rental period, it's crucial for prospective tenants to communicate effectively with landlords, ask questions, clarify any concerns, and ensure they understand all aspects of the rental agreement. Here are some issues related to the pre-rental period. 

Issues Related To Pre-Rental And Moving-In

This issue covers leases and rental agreements, which are important legal documents that explain the rules and conditions of renting a home. They are contracts that both landlords and tenants agree to follow. 

These documents cover important details such as how long the tenant can stay in the rental home, how much rent they have to pay, and what happens if they don't pay on time. They also explain the security deposit which is money paid upfront to cover any damages to the property. 

The documents also state who is responsible for maintenance tasks or repairs. Generally, landlords take care of big repairs, while tenants handle small repairs and everyday upkeep. 

There may be rules in place in the lease agreement about things like noise, pets, smoking, and making changes to the property. If these rules are broken, there can be consequences like fines or being asked to leave. 

If either the landlord or the tenant wants to end the rental agreement there are procedures to follow. This includes giving notice in writing within a specific timeframe. 

It's important for both landlords and tenants to carefully read and understand these documents before signing them. If there are any questions or concerns, tenants can get legal advice to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. 

This issue covers paying a security deposit, which is common practice when renting a property. A security deposit is a sum of money paid by the tenant to the landlord at the beginning of the lease agreement. Its purpose is to protect the landlord against any potential damage to the property or non-payment of rent by the tenant. 

The security deposit serves as a form of financial assurance for the landlord. If the tenant causes damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear or fails to fulfill their financial obligations, the landlord can use the deposit to cover the expenses incurred.

It's important for tenants to carefully review the terms and conditions related to the security deposit before signing a lease agreement. This includes understanding any deductions that may be made from the deposit, the process for documenting existing damages, and the landlord's obligations regarding the deposit's safekeeping and return.

This issue covers renters' insurance, which is important for tenants who are renting a property. It protects in case of unexpected events or damages happen while living in a rented home. 

Renters' insurance covers a few different things. First, it helps tenants replace and repair their personal belongings if they get damaged or stolen. It also offers liability protection if someone gets injured while on the rental property and holds the tenant responsible. Lastly, it can help cover temporary living expenses if the rental unit becomes unlivable due to a covered event. 

Getting renters' insurance is a straightforward process. Tenants can research different insurance providers and policies to find the best coverage and price. They should look at coverage limits, deductibles, and any additional endorsements they might need based on their situation. Then, they can contact insurance companies or agents to get a policy. It's important to carefully review the policy terms, understand what is covered, and keep records of belongings in case they need to make a claim. 

The cost of renters' insurance varies based on where you live, how much coverage you want, and your chosen insurance company. In general, it's affordable and the monthly and yearly premiums are relatively low compared to other types of insurance. 

While renters' insurance is not always required by law, it is strongly recommended that tenants protect themselves financially and reduce risks. Some landlords may even make it a requirement in the lease agreement to protect themselves and limit their own liability. 

This issue covers renting a mobile home in a mobile home park, which has some unique considerations compared to renting a regular property. These factors can affect tenants' rights, responsibilities, and overall living experience. 

Here are the key things to know about renting in a mobile home park: 

  1. Lease or Rental Agreement: Tenants usually sign a lease or rental agreement with the park management. This document outlines important details like rent amount, payment schedule, lease duration, park rules, and responsibilities of both the tenant and the park management.

  2. Park Rules and Regulations: Mobile home parks have specific rules that govern tenant behavior, the appearance of homes, property maintenance, and other aspects that contribute to a good community atmosphere. Tenants should familiarize themselves with these rules to ensure they follow them and maintain a harmonious living environment.

  3. Park Fees and Amenities: Along with rent, tenants may have to pay additional fees for utilities, park maintenance, or access to amenities like recreational facilities or common areas. It's important to understand these costs and include them in your budget.

  4. Mobile Home Ownership: When renting a mobile home, you're usually leasing the home itself and renting or subleasing the lot within the park where the home is located. Make sure you understand the ownership structure and your legal rights and responsibilities regarding both the home and the lot.

  5. Park Management and Disputes: The park management plays a crucial role in maintaining the park. It's important to establish good communication and know how to address concerns, maintenance requests, or disputes that may arise during your tenancy.

  6. Community Living: Renting in a mobile home park often means living in close proximity to neighbors and engaging in a community environment. Respect your neighbors' privacy and follow park rules.

Tenants should carefully read the lease or rental agreement, understand their rights and responsibilities, and communicate openly with park management. If needed, seek legal advice or consult local tenant resources for further clarification on specific laws and regulations related to mobile home parks.

This issue covers discrimination, which is one of the difficulties tenants may face experiencing unfair treatment while trying to rent a property. 

Discrimination in renting happens when landlords or property managers treat people unfairly based on things like their race, religion, gender, disability, or whether they have a family. It's important to make sure that everyone has equal opportunities to find a place to live, regardless of these factors.

Dealing with discrimination in renting is complicated, but there are some important steps to take. First, it's important to understand the laws that protect against discrimination in housing. These laws are different depending on where you live, but they generally say that discrimination is not allowed.

If you think you've experienced discrimination, it's important to gather evidence. Keep records of any communication, like emails or messages, and write down the details of what happened, when it happened, and who was involved. This evidence can be really helpful if you decide to make a complaint.

You can report discrimination to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD can give you advice, investigate your complaint, and take action if needed.

This issue covers how to dispute a tenant screening record, which is one of the difficulties tenants may face when they are trying to rent a property. 

A tenant screening report is a paper that tells landlords about a person who wants to rent their place. It has info like their credit history, criminal records, and if they were kicked out of previous homes. Landlords use these reports to decide if someone would be a good tenant or not.

If you need to dispute errors on your tenant screening report, you must take prompt action to correct the errors and protect your rental prospects. 

During The Rental Period

During The Rental Period

The rental period refers to the duration of time during which a tenant occupies and resides in a rental period. Here are some issues that may come up during the rental period. 

Issues During The Rental Period

This issue covers maintenance and repairs and who is responsible for taking care of a rented property and making repairs. 

Landlords have a legal duty to make sure the rental property is safe and livable. They need to meet certain health and safety standards, fix any major issues, and make sure utilities work properly. 

Tenants, on the other hand, are responsible for everyday upkeep that doesn't require professional help. This includes things like cleaning and minor fixes. Tenants should let their landlord know right away if there are any problems that need fixing. 

Clear communication between landlords and tenants is important. The lease or rental agreement should say who is responsible for what repairs and maintenance tasks. Both landlords and tenants should keep a record of any communication or requests about repairs.

If there are maintenance or repair issues, tenants should tell their landlord in writing, explaining the problem and asking for it to be fixed quickly. Landlords should take care of the problem in a reasonable amount of time. If they don't, tenants may have legal options like getting the repair done themselves and deducting the cost from the rent.

This issue covers when landlords can enter the rental property and what rights tenants have regarding their privacy. 

Landlord access means the landlord's right to enter the rental property for certain reasons, like repairs or showing the property to potential tenants or buyers. However, tenants have the right to privacy, security, and peace in their rental homes. Landlords must respect these rights and not enter the property excessively or without a valid reason. There are situations where landlords can enter without prior notice, such as emergencies or if the tenant has left the property without intending to return.

Laws usually require landlords to give notice and get the tenant's permission before entering the rental unit, unless there's an emergency. The notice period needed can vary, usually ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the law and the reason for the visit. The notice should be in writing and include the date, time, and purpose of the visit. Landlords are expected to schedule visits during reasonable hours and avoid causing unnecessary disruptions to the tenant's daily life.

If tenants believe that their landlord is not following the rules for accessing the property, they may have options to protect their rights. This can involve reporting the issue to local housing authorities, seeking legal advice, or taking legal action to enforce their rights.

This issue covers the responsibility and process of paying rent for a rental property. Paying rent means giving the landlord the agreed-upon payment for living in the rental property.  

Tenants usually have to pay rent regularly, like every month or week, as stated in the lease. The amount of rent is also written in the lease agreement. 

Tenants can pay rent in different ways, like by check, electronic transfer, or cash. The landlord usually tells you the best way to pay.

It's important to pay rent on time and in full to keep a good relationship with the landlord and follow the lease. If you're late or miss a payment, there may be consequences, like extra fees or even getting evicted.

Keep records of your rent payments, like receipts or bank statements, as proof that you paid. This can help if there's any disagreement later on.

If you have trouble paying rent, talk to the landlord as soon as possible. You can try to work out a plan to pay over time or get temporary help with money.

This issue covers when landlords lock out tenants or cut off their utilities to try to control or pressure them. 

Locking out a tenant means the landlord prevents them from entering their rental home by changing the locks or blocking their access. Shutting off utilities means the landlord stops providing essential services like water, electricity, heating, or gas. 

These actions by landlords are usually against the law because they violate tenant rights and housing regulations. 

If a tenant is locked out or has their utilities shut off by the landlord, they should take action right away. This can involve gathering evidence of what happened, looking for emergency housing options, and getting legal advice about what to do next. 

This issue covers tenant options when they rent a property from a landlord who is facing foreclosure or bankruptcy. 

Foreclosure happens when the owner of the property can't pay their mortgage, and the lender takes possession of the property. Bankruptcy means the landlord is in financial trouble and can't meet their obligations. 

When a landlord is in foreclosure or bankruptcy, it can cause uncertainty and disruptions for tenants. It's important for tenants to know their rights and explore their choices in these situations. 

Tenant options when a property is facing foreclosure or bankruptcy may include situations where they may be continuing the lease, ending the lease, or redirecting rent payments. 

Tenants should keep records of all communication, keep copies of lease agreements and payment receipts, and seek legal advice to protect their rights and interests. 

This issue is about renters who are affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods, or other unexpected events. These renters face unique challenges and considerations related to their housing, safety, finances, and recovery.

When a disaster happens, renters may have to leave their homes temporarily or lose or damage their belongings. They might need to find a temporary place to stay, replace damaged items, and deal with the emotional and financial stress caused by the disaster.

Renters should talk to their landlords or property managers right away about how the disaster has affected their rental property. They should report damages, discuss repairs, and raise any concerns about safety or whether the place is still livable.

If renters have renters' insurance, they should review their policy to see what damages it covers from the specific disaster. Taking photos or videos of the damages can help with the insurance claims process.

If the rental property is no longer safe to live in because of the disaster, renters may need to find temporary housing. They can seek help from disaster relief organizations, contact local authorities for emergency shelter options, or stay with family or friends until the rental property is fixed.

Renters affected by disasters might be eligible for financial assistance from government agencies, nonprofits, or disaster relief programs. These resources can provide money for immediate needs, temporary housing, or recovery expenses.

Renters should know their rights under local laws. There may be specific rules that protect tenants during and after a disaster, like reducing rent, ending the lease early, or making the landlord responsible for repairs.

This issue covers information about inheriting a lease when someone passes away, usually a family member or designated heir. Inheriting a lease means taking over the rights and responsibilities of the lease agreement and dealing with the legal and practical aspects of the inheritance. 

Inheriting a lease means you have to do what the lease says. This includes things like paying rent on time, following the rules in the lease, taking care of the property, and following any other obligations mentioned in the agreement. Take time to carefully read the lease agreement to understand its terms and conditions. Look for any information about inheriting or transferring the lease. 

Let the landlord or property manager know as soon as possible that you've inherited the lease. Provide them with the necessary documents, like a death certificate, or proof of inheritance, to show that you have the right to take over the lease. 

Depending on your situation and what you want, you may choose to end the lease early, or keep it for a remaining time, or negotiate a new lease with the landlord. 

If the situation is complicated, or you're not sure about the inheritance or lease terms, it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer who knows about property and inheritance law. 

This issue covers situations where a tenant doesn't pay their rent, and the landlord takes their belongings as a way to recover unpaid rent. This is sometimes called a "landlord's lien" or "repossession." 

The landlord takes action when the tenant owes a significant amount of unpaid rent for a certain period of time. The specific amount and duration may depend on the lease or local laws.

Before taking the tenant's belongings, the landlord usually has to give them notice in writing. The notice tells the tenant how much rent they owe and that the landlord intends to take their belongings. The length of notice and other requirements may vary depending on local laws.

The landlord may need to get a court order or follow legal procedures to enforce the landlord's lien and take the tenant's belongings. It's important for landlords to follow the law to avoid legal consequences.

Once the landlord takes the tenant's belongings, they have to keep them safe and in good condition. The landlord usually needs to give the tenant a chance to get their things back after they pay the rent they owe or make other agreed-upon arrangements.

If there are disagreements about the amount of rent owed or the landlord's actions, tenants may need to get legal advice. 

This issue covers situations where tenants may face problems with their housing due to housing code violations. Housing code violations can pose significant challenges for tenants, potentially affecting their safety, health, and overall well-being.

Tenants have the right to live in habitable conditions, and landlords are obligated to maintain properties in a state that meets basic health and safety standards.

When tenants encounter such issues, they should ideally report them to their landlord or property manager. If the problems are not addressed, tenants may need to contact local housing authorities or seek legal advice.

 

Lease Termination And Moving-Out

Lease Termination And Moving Out

Lease termination and moving out refer to the process of ending a tenancy and vacating a rental property. Here are some issues about lease termination and the moving-out period. 

Issues Related To Lease Termination And Moving-Out

The issue covers the process and implications of eviction from a rental home. Eviction occurs when a landlord legally removes a tenant from the rented property due to various reasons, such as non-payment of rent, lease violations, or expiration of the lease term. 

You can learn about evictions by clicking here

Before starting the eviction process, landlords must give tenants a written notice explaining why they are being evicted and giving them a certain amount of time to address the issue. 

If the tenant doesn't resolve the problem or move out within the given time, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in court. The tenant will receive a legal notice called a summons and they can respond to the lawsuit, presenting their side of the story and any defenses they have. You can learn about defenses to eviction by clicking here

The case goes to a court hearing where the landlord and tenant present their arguments and evidence. The court considers the facts, relevant laws, and any lease agreements before making a decision about the eviction. 

If the court decides in favor of the landlord, they may receive a document called a writ of possession. This gives law enforcement the authority to physically remove the tenant from the rental home if they don't leave voluntarily within a certain time.

Throughout the eviction process, tenants have the right to defend themselves. They can challenge the reasons for the eviction, provide evidence of the landlord's wrongdoing, or show that their rights as a tenant were violated. 

Tenants should also know about available resources, like legal aid organizations or tenant advocacy groups, that can help them during the eviction process. Exploring alternatives, such as negotiating with the landlord, trying mediation, or seeking financial assistance, can also be helpful to lessen the impact of eviction and explore potential solutions.

This issue covers information about ending a rental lease agreement before its planned end date.

Take the time to carefully read the lease agreement to understand the rules for terminating the lease early. It may include requirements like giving notice, paying fees, or finding a new tenant. 

Start an open conversation with the landlord or the property manager about the intention to end the lease early. It's best to provide a written notice, following the instructions in the lease or under Louisiana law. 

Sometimes, tenants and landlords can reach an agreement that works for both sides. This might involve paying a fee, finding someone to take over the lease, or finding another arrangement that suits anyone. 

Ending a lease early can have legal consequences and financial obligations. It's a good idea to seek legal advice if you want to understand your rights, responsibilities, and any potential risks involved in your situation. 

This issue covers getting back a security deposit at the end of the rental agreement. 

Read the lease agreement to know the specific rules about the security deposit. This includes notice requirements, property conditions, and the timeframe for returning the deposit. Give your new address to the landlord so they can contact you and return the deposit. 

To increase the chances of receiving the full security deposit, try to clean the property, fix any damages beyond normal wear and tear, and remove personal belongings before moving out. 

Request a move-out inspection with the landlord or property manager. Both parties can assess the property's condition, note any damages, and document them with written descriptions or pictures. 

This issue covers situations where a landlord initiates legal proceedings against a tenant, suing them for money. This typically occurs when the landlord believes the tenant owes unpaid rent, damages, or other financial obligations as outlined in the lease agreement or rental terms. 

The landlord may sue the tenant for various reasons, such as unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, property damage beyond normal wear and tear, or breach of lease terms. The lawsuit is typically based on the landlord's claim that the tenant has failed to fulfill their financial obligations as specified in the lease agreement.

The landlord initiates a legal process by filing a lawsuit against the tenant in the appropriate court. The tenant receives a summons and must respond by a specified deadline. Failure to respond may result in a default judgment in favor of the landlord. 

The tenant has the right to present defenses or counterclaims in response to the lawsuit. Possible defenses may include disputes over the amount owed, claims of landlord misconduct, or failure to provide habitable living conditions. Legal representation can help tenants navigate the legal process and assert their rights effectively.

Prior to or during the legal proceedings, the landlord and tenant may choose to engage in negotiation or mediation to reach a settlement. This can involve discussing a repayment plan, resolving disputes, or finding a mutually agreeable solution to avoid protracted litigation.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, a judgment will be issued, specifying the amount owed by the tenant. The court may also grant the landlord the ability to collect the money owed through various means, such as wage garnishment, bank account seizure, or placing liens on the tenant's assets.

It is advisable for both parties to seek legal representation during a lawsuit. An attorney experienced in landlord-tenant law can provide guidance, protect rights, and advocate on behalf of the tenant or landlord throughout the legal proceedings.

Last Review and Update: Jan 16, 2024
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