Questions and Answers about:
Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
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What is a lease?
A lease is a contract or agreement between a landlord and a tenant. It can be written or oral. A lease is important since it controls your rights as a tenant. Always keep a copy of the lease for your records.
A lease usually lists how long you can live there, the amount of rent, when the rent is due and who must make repairs. Most leases contain much more than this. Read the other conditions carefully and understand them before you sign.
If you sign a lease, be aware that it sets out the rules that you and your landlord agree to follow. For example, it will probably say whether the landlord can evict you before the lease ends, what reasons he must have, and what kind of notice he must give you. If the landlord tries to evict you or sues you for money, a judge will look at the lease to decide the case.
Pay special attention to any lease clause that talks about repairs. Landlords often try to stick tenants with repairs that are really the landlord's responsibility.
You should also pay special attention to how much notice you are expected to give if you don’t plan on renewing your lease. Do not assume your lease says 30 days. Some leases require more than 30 days’ notice, and if you fail to give that notice your lease will automatically renew, and/or your landlord can charge you rent after you move out.
If something in the lease is grossly unfair to you, a judge may say that it cannot be used against you. But, usually your rights depend on what the lease says. So, before you sign a lease that has unfair rules, you should decide whether you can live with those rules.
What if my lease is silent on an issue?
Louisiana landlord-tenant law will decide most cases if the lease says nothing about your issue or problem. Many of the landlord-tenant laws are found in articles 2668 to 2729 of the Louisiana Civil Code.
I only have an oral lease. Do I have any rights?
If you rent without a written lease, this usually means that you are a "month-to-month" tenant or renter.
This means that the landlord can evict you for no reason by giving you 10 days' written notice before the end of the current rental month. The landlord can also raise your rent by giving you 10 days' notice before the next month's rent is due. Even though you do not have a written lease your landlord must still go through the court process to evict you.
Sometimes, you may have an agreement with the landlord that he must give you more than 10 days notice. But such agreements are difficult to prove.
A tenant with an oral lease may have the right to stay longer if there is a specific agreement that the lease is for a certain period of time. But the tenant must prove the agreement. If it is your word against the landlord's word, the judge will usually side with your landlord. If you want the protection of a longer lease term, get it in writing!
What if I stay in a hotel or motel, do I have any rights?
Generally, if you stay in a hotel or motel, you are not a tenant and do not have the rights of a tenant.
What if I stay in a rooming house?
This is a gray area of the law. If the owner acts like a motel by keeping control of the rooms, then you are probably not a tenant. For example, the owner:
· provides clean sheets;
· cleans your room;
· signs guests in and out of a guest registry.
If the owner does not do these things, then he is probably a landlord, and you may have tenant's rights.
Last Review and Update: April, 2019