Louisiana Landlord Tenant Laws
Louisiana has individual sets of both statutes and civil codes that landlords and tenants in the state need to be aware of. There is no requirement at the state level that a landlord have a business license, but it is important to check the statutes of individual cities and counties as they may have their own rules that supersede state law.
Louisiana has long been seen as one of the states that most heavily favors landlords in terms of state law. However, a bill is pending in the state legislature that could greatly change the terms of rental agreements in the near future. Bill SCR131 has passed the House and has been signed by the Speaker of the House. It authorizes the Louisiana State Law Institute to look over current state rental law and make recommendations for making it more equitable to tenants in line with the laws of many other states. Some proposals that have been mentioned in the legislature include increasing eviction notices to 30 days and giving tenants greater flexibility in making needed repairs and deducting the cost from the rent. The information below still represents the current state of the law as of this writing, but be aware that major changes could come in the near future.
What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in Louisiana?
There are two main sections of Louisiana law that landlords and renters should be familiar with. The first is sections 3251-3261 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. The second is sections 2668 to 2679 of the Louisiana Civil Code. Eviction proceedings are covered separately under Civil Code 4701-4735. Additionally, the Attorney General’s office publishes a simplified summary guide to basic landlord and tenant laws.
Security Deposit Rules
Louisiana has no statutes governing many aspects of how security deposits are handled at the state level. This includes for maximum amounts charged, paying interest to tenants, where the deposit is to be held, and providing a receipt for the deposit and a record of withholdings. There are also no statutes on the amount of pet deposits.
Louisiana landlords are required to return a security deposit within one month of the termination of the lease, however, under Part IV – 3251. Landlords are also limited in their use of the deposit to covering unpaid rent and repairing unreasonable wear and tear to the dwelling. If money is withheld for damages, an itemized list that includes individual charges must be provided to the tenant within a month. If the landlord violates any of the terms of the return of the security deposit, the tenant may sue them to recover either the actual damages or the sum of $200, whichever amount is greater.
Lease, Rent and Fee Rules
Civil Code 2703 stipulates that rent is due at the start of each interval in the rental arrangement, which is usually each month or each week. The date can be changed by mutual consent between landlord and tenant in the lease, however.
There are no state statutes on notification of an increase in rent, a grace period for rent payments, prepaid rent or fees for early termination of the lease. Landlords cannot charge a late fee for rent payments unless it has been specified in the lease.
There is no statute addressing tenant ability to withhold or deduct rent for failure by the landlord to provide essential utilities. Tenants do have some ability to make needed repairs and deduct the cost from the rent, however, if they notify the landlord and the landlord does not remedy the situation in a reasonable amount of time. The specific terms are laid out in CC 2694. Landlords may recover court and attorney fees if they win a lawsuit against the tenant, if the court chooses to award them. However, they must also make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages in the case of a tenant eviction. There is no specific requirement for a landlord to make an attempt to re-rent the unit if the tenant abandons the lease, however.
Notice and Entry Rules
Written notice for a tenant to terminate a lease early is covered under CC 2720-CC 2728. Open-ended yearly leases require 30 days notice, month-to-month agreements require 10 days notice and weely rentals require five days notice. While a yearly lease with a fixed end date cannot be terminated early, if the tenant chooses to remain in the unit and the landlord does not move to evict, then the lease automatically converts to a month-to-month agreement.
Termination of a lease by the landlord for nonpayment or a violation is covered under CC 4701. Both of these conditions simply require five days written notice, and there is no required grace period for the tenant to remedy the problem. There are no statutes on the termination of week-to-week leases, or situations where a lease can be terminated with 24 hours notice.
There are no state statutes on many aspects of notice prior to landlord entry, including for non-emergency repairs and for showings. Lockouts and utility shutoffs are forbidden, and the landlord can be sued for wrongful eviction if they do these things or if they move the property of the tenant out to the street or any other location.
Required Disclosures and Notes
State law does not require landlords to provide a copy of the lease or a contact name and address, though it is standard practice to do so voluntarily. CC 2682 spells out the duties and responsibilities the landlord is subject to. Landlords must deliver possession of the premises to the tenant by the agreed-upon date, maintain the premises in a habitable condition, protect the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the premises, and make repairs necessary to keep the dwelling in a habitable state. They must also disclose any use of lead paint and must provide the tenant with an informational pamphlet on its potential health dangers.
The duties of the tenant are spelled out in CC 2683. Tenants are required to return the premises to the landlord in the condition that they received them, with some provision for normal wear and tear. Tenants are not allowed to make alterations to the premises, and must notify the landlord as soon as possible if there is damage or if there is some intrusion by a third party.
Unlike most states, Louisiana has no statutes regarding landlord retaliation, but some cities and counties may have their own ordinances. The state does not allow domestic violence victims to quit their lease or have their locks changed, but the perpetrators of domestic violence can have their tenancy terminated for it along with any public assistance they may be receiving under Revised Statutes 40:506.
Small Claims Court
Louisiana is a bit unusual in that there is no state statute on limits in small claims court. The state leaves it up to each city and county to determine limits for itself, so you will have to check with your locality to learn the amount.
Evictions are not allowed in small claims court. The statute of limitations on both oral and written contracts is 10 years.
Louisiana Realtor Associations
New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors
The Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors
Central Louisiana Realtors Association
Northeast Louisiana Association of Realtors
Northwest Louisiana Association of Realtors
Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors