Louisiana Security Deposit Law for Landlords and Tenants
The security deposit laws for Louisiana are covered under RS 9:3251-3253 of the state code for the residential landlord and tenant act. Unlike many other states, there are very few guidelines, maximums, or restrictions that are in place regarding this deposit. This guide will provide an overview of the specific limitations that are in place so you can have some expectation on what to expect.
1. There Are No Security Deposit Limits In Louisiana.
Most landlords in the state will charge around one month's rent as a security deposit. On some furnished properties or high value rental units, the amount may be as high as 2x the monthly rent. Anything beyond that amount may price a landlord out of the market. There is no maximum, however, that caps the amount that a landlord is able to charge.
2. There Are No Specific Rules About How a Security Deposit Must Be Stored.
Landlords in the state are not required to keep security deposit funds separate from other funds. There is not a requirement to pay interest on the amount or even that it must be kept in a separate bank account. Landlords are not even required to provide a tenant with a written notice that they have received the security deposit funds or where they are going to be stored.
3. Landlords Have One Month After a Tenant Moves Out To Return a Security Deposit.
Tenants are required to provide their landlord with a forwarding address so a security deposit can be mailed out. Note that it isn't a 30 day requirement – it is a “one month” requirement for the deposit return. Depending on the month, that could be a 28-31 day deadline to drop the deposit into the mail.
4. Any Deductions From a Security Deposit Must Be Itemized And In Writing.
The list should include what items were deducted from the deposit and the exact amount of each item. A failure to provide this specific information may give the tenant the ability to pursue legal remedies to have more of their deposit returned to them. The itemized list must be sent to the forwarding address within the same time period as the remainder of the security deposit.
5. Abandonment Negates The Return Of a Security Deposit.
Under the security deposit codes, landlords do not have any further obligation to return a tenant's security deposit when the property has been abandoned. Tenants are required to notify their landlord of any prolonged absence of 7 days or more to avoid having their rental unit classified as being abandoned and losing their security deposit and potentially their possessions to the landlord.
6. Only 4 Claims Are Allowable To a Tenant's Security Deposit.
Louisiana allows for deductions to a security deposit for 4 specific reasons. Unpaid rent, damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear, to remedy any defaulted payment, or some other breach to the rental agreement that has caused financial harm to the landlord. Only the exact amount of the damage may be deducted as a claim, even if a landlord is doing the work on their own.
7. Landlords Are Not Required To Perform a Final Walk-Through With Their Tenant.
Tenants are allowed to move out of a rental unit without a mutual inspection with the landlord. Because of this, it is a good idea for both parties to take pictures of the condition of the property in the presence of witnesses. Having a current newspaper in each picture with the date visible will help to verify the time the pictures were taken.
8. Wrongfully Withholding a Security Deposit Allows a Tenant Actual Damages Only.
Tenants can only pursue actual damages that are caused by the wrongful withholding of a security deposit. There is no cap on the actual damages. If no financial damage to the tenant has occurred, then the maximum penalty a landlord would have to pay to the tenant would be $200. Court costs and attorney fees might be included with this amount.
9. Security Deposits Transfer With The Sale Of a Property.
Landlords must transfer all security deposit funds to the new owner of a property at the conclusion of a sale. Once this occurs, the previous landlord is no longer held responsible in any way for the return of the deposit. The new owner will be responsible for the return of any remaining deposit after a tenant moves out.
The Louisiana Security Deposit Law for Landlords and Tenants is designed to help both parties protect their best interests in this relationship. By following these guidelines, you'll be able to reduce the risks of future liabilities. For specific answers to your situation or for further help, seek the help of a local legal professional.
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