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Louisiana Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities (Article)

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Contents

What Landlords are Required to do for Their Tenants

1. Follow the Lease and the Law
  • Landlords are responsible for giving the tenant the promised property at the agreed-upon time and in good, working and safe condition.

  • The landlord must not make alterations to the lease without properly notifying the tenant.

  • The landlord must not substantially violate the terms of the lease. A violation can be an action that the lease prohibits. It can also be a refusal to act when the lease requires action.

    • If the landlord violates the lease, the tenant may be able to cancel the lease, or ask for "specific performance," which means you must honor the terms of the lease.

      • See this article for more information on lease cancellation.

      • See this article for tips on asking for specific performance. 

2. Maintain Safety and Tenant's "Peaceful Possession" of the Property

Safety

  • Any damages that provide a danger to the tenants should be attended to immediately.

  • During the lease, landlords have to maintain the safety and habitability of the rental by ensuring safety features are functional, and major repairs are made as necessary.

  • State laws and local housing codes typically require landlords to:

    • keep basic structural elements of the rental property (for example, walls and roofs) safe and intact;

    • maintain common areas, such as stairways, clean, sanitary and safe.keep electrical, plumbing, and other essential services operating safely; and

    • comply with other housing rules, for example, regarding sewage disposal, fire protection, rodent infestations, legal nuisances, such as drug dealing on the property, and the like.

 

Peaceful Possession

  • Landlords are responsible for keeping a tenant’s peaceful possession which allows them to remain private.  

    • This means the landlord is not to intrude or enter the property without permission of the tenant. Exceptions exist in emergency situations, like entering the property if the building is on fire. 

    • This also means that a landlord must be responsible for other tenants' behavior. If other tenants are dangerous or disruptive (e.g., making or selling illegal drugs; selling firearms), the landlord must intervene and ensure the safety of other tenants.

  • Landlords are responsible for paying all taxes or other charges that are made to the property outside of regular rent.

  • If the rental units change ownership during a tenant’s lease, the new owner may change the rental agreement or evict the tenant. If the tenant is evicted by the new owner, the landlord may be responsible for damages to the tenant for breaking the lease.

  • Landlords must notify their tenants if the property subject to the lease is at risk of foreclosure.

3. Return the Security Deposit

After the termination of the lease, the landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days.  If the landlord retains the security deposit, or any portion of it, the landlord must provide the tenant with a list of damages and their associated costs for repair within 30 days. 

 

If the landlord does not return the deposit or send the itemized letter, the tenant may file suit in court for the return of the security deposit, plus 2x the deposit amount in damages.

FAQs About Landlord Rights

Can I visit, enter, and inspect my property during the term of the lease? +

Yes, with proper notice to the tenant. Tenants have a right to privacy. Unannounced entry and inspection of the property infringes on that right to privacy. The best practice is to include in the lease the conditions under which the landlord may visit, enter, and inspect the property and the amount of notice required.

There may be limited exceptions to the notice requirement, such as during an emergency situation that threatens the life or health of the tenant or others.

Can I use my property during the term of the lease? +

Not ordinarily. Generally, the tenant has the exclusive right to use the property covered by a lease. If the lease contains an exception for the landlord's use of a portion of the property, such as a locked shed, the landlord may be able to use that portion of the property during the term of the lease.

What if the tenant abandons the property during the term of the lease? +

If the tenant abandons the property and their whereabouts are unknown, a landlord can serve notice to vacate by posting it on the door of the property. Nonjudicial eviction is permissible if the landlord can prove the tenant abandoned the property.

The lessor's privilege allows a landlord to seize a tenant's property for unpaid rent. If the landlord wishes to seize the tenant's abandoned property to satisfy unpaid rent obligations, the landlord must ask the Court to issue a writ of sequestration before taking the tenant's property.

 

What if there is an unauthorized occupant on the property during the term of the lease? +

In residential leases, a tenant can be considered to have broken the lease by having unauthorized occupants live in the property. If the unauthorized occupancy of the property is a violation of the terms of the lease, the landlord may terminate the lease and begin eviction proceedings. Even if the unauthorized occupant is subleasing the property, the sub-lease dissolves upon the termination of the primary lease between the landlord and the original tenant. It is a better practice to offer at least one warning to the tenant and unauthorized occupant, in order to give them an opportunity to comply with the lease, before initiating eviction proceedings.

Can I lock out the tenant to evict them? +

No, it is against the law for a landlord to lock their tenant out, throw their belongings out, or cut off their utilities.

If a landlord changes the locks, shuts off tenants’ utilities, or takes their property, the landlord has broken the law.

What do I do with a tenant's security deposit once the lease ends? +

At the end of the lease, the landlord has to return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days if the condition of the rental reflects reasonable wear and tear. If damages occurred, the landlord has to send the tenant an itemized list of damages within 30 days to explain the retained portion of the security deposit. If the tenant objects to the itemized list of damages in court, it will be the landlord's burden to prove the damages and the value of the repairs.

Last Review and Update: Jul 20, 2020