CONSUMER’S NOTEBOOK Landlord and Tenant: Looking for an Apartment If a deposit to hold an apartment is required: Remember, if you fail to take the apartment on the agreed date, the landlord can keep the deposit. If the unit is not ready on the agreed date, you are entitled to get the entire deposit back. Inspections and Checklists: Before placing a deposit, inspect the premises. Note any damage, uncleanliness, or other issues on a checklist. Make two copies and have the landlord sign one and date it. If he refuses, have a friend take snapshots of the apartment, date them and witness it. Your landlord is obligated to maintain the rental premises in a habitable condition. Security/Damage Deposits: These are deposits given to the landlord to satisfy nonpayment of rent or any other default, including physical damage to the apartment. Remember, your landlord can only retain this deposit to remedy a default or for damages for unreasonable wear. Lessee's Deposit Act: This law requires your landlord to return your deposit within 30 days of termination of the lease, provided you have fulfilled the lease and left a forwarding address. If your landlord fails to return your deposit, you may sue in small claims court to recover it. Pet deposits are recoverable under this act. What You Need to Know About Your Lease • The lease is a contract which legally binds both parties to terms for a specified period of time. Breach of this contract by either party can result in serious legal and financial consequences. • The lease can be oral or written. It is better to have a written lease as proof of the contract itself. Always keep a copy of the signed lease. If there is no written or oral lease, a month to month lease is presumed to exist. • Ask for a copy of the rules governing tenants and read them before signing the lease. • If tenants co-sign the lease, either may be held responsible for nonpayment of the entire rent, damage or breach of contract. • Beware of leases which automatically renew for another term equal to the original term. To avoid automatic renewal, give notice of your intention to vacate at least 30 days prior to expiration of the lease. • A tenant must be given notice before being evicted. The landlord must give 5 days notice where there is cause for eviction, and 10 days notice if there is simply a termination of the lease. Leaving Your Apartment Notice to vacate Before you leave (or vacate) your apartment, you must tell your landlord in writing when you will leave. Most leases tell you how far in advance you must tell the landlord. If you and the landlord did not decide on the number of days ahead, you must say you are leaving at least 10 days before the last day for the month for which rent was paid. Final Cleaning and Repair If there is nothing written in the lease which requires specific cleaning, you are obligated only to return the apartment in the same condition it was in when you took possession of it. There should be some room for normal wear, but if the apartment is not in its original condition, the landlord may keep all or part of your deposit with proof of expenses. However, if the lease requires that the apartment be cleaned when the renter leaves, the original condition does not matter. You have to clean it no matter what it was like when you moved into it. The landlord may keep all or part of the deposit if the apartment is not cleaned. To protect yourself against disagreement with the property owner or manager over the way the apartment was left, take pictures before you move in and before you leave. The Final Inspection On the day that you move out of your apartment, you must return all apartment keys to the property owner or manager. You should be asked to be there for the final inspection. Leave a forwarding address with the property owner or manager so that the deposit can be mailed to you, or arrange to either have your demand letter delivered on the day you vacate the apartment, or given to you at the time of final inspection. After You Move Out Lessee’s Deposit Law (R.S. 9:3252 entitled Lessee’s Deposit Law and Incorporated as Title 9, section 3251- 3254 of the Louisiana revised statutes) There is a law in Louisiana called the “Lessee’s Deposit Law” that the Lessee is due a deposit refund within 30 days of the day you move out. If any part of the deposit is not returned, the landlord must send you a list the things you are being charged for and the rest of the deposit. A deposit may be kept for unreasonable wear to the apartment. The act penalizes the willful failure of the landlord to obey the law by permitting the tenant the right to recover actual damages or $200, whichever is greater. Failure to remit within 30 days for a tenant’s written demand for a refund shall constitute willful failure. The judge may award costs and lawyer’s fees to the side that wins, if you take the landlord to court. The law says you cannot give up or waive this right even in a lease. How to get your deposit back The law provides for two 30-day waiting periods unless you arrange for your demand letter to coincide with the day you leave the apartment. If you wait 30 days after you vacate to deliver your letter to demand your deposit refund or an explanation of charges, you must wait an additional 30 days for the landlord to respond. Keep a copy of this letter and be sure to put a date on it. Send the letter to the landlord by Registered Mail to assure its receipt. Small Claims Court You can get an informational brochure on how to use Small Claims Court by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Louisiana Consumer Education Fund, P.O. Box 1029, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Various Services Company Contact number/web site Entergy Electric Co. 1-800-368-3749 (1-800-ENTERGY) 5755 Choctaw Drive, Baton Rouge www.entergy.com DEMCO Headquarters 225-261-1221 16262 Wax Road, Greenwell Springs 70739 www.demco.org Phone service/digital TV: 1-888-757-6500 Internet service: 1-888-321-2375 The New AT&T En Espanol: 1-800-837-1563 TTY/TDD/VCO/HCO: 1-888-341-2355 www.att.com Baton Rouge Water Co. 225-925-2011 8755 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge www.batonrougewater.com COX Communication Cable Company 225-615-1000 7401 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge www.cox.com/batonrouge Recycling Office East Baton Rouge Parish 225-389-5194 805 Louis St., Baton Rouge 70802 www.brgov.com/dept/recycle East Baton Rouge School Board 225-922-5567 1050 S. Foster Drive, Baton Rouge 70806 www.ebrpass.k12.la.us http://schoolboard.ebrschools.org Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 225-922-1175 7979 Independence Blvd. http://omv.dps.state.la.us Vehicle Registration 225-925-6146 7979 Independence Blvd.
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