Dig Baton Rouge

FYI: Landlords suck, know your stuff

Whether or not you realize, when you choose to make a legal decision to sign a lease in Louisiana, there are certain things you should consider before making a decision to be bound to a landlord. It’s important to do your research. The more you educate yourself, the better you are equipped to make a safe, sound decision whether or not to sign your name on the line. If you choose to “sign on that line” without doing your homework, Louisiana law states, “Ignorance is no excuse and can and will not provide a legal viable defense in the eyes of the court.”

In case you ever get screwed over by a landlord, Louisiana Revised Statute Annotated §§ 9:3251 to 9:3261, and Louisiana Civil Code Annotated Articles 2668 to 2729 are the statutes and laws that govern basic Louisiana landlord/tenant rights with respect to leasing, renting, rent to own and any and everything else you ever wanted to know about leasing.

Here comes the Cliffnote version of creating a successful lease. Imagine you sign a six month lease with a corporate apartment complex, we’ll call it Corporate A. Remember that landlords and tenants are governed by local laws and statutes, state applicable laws and even federal laws, depending on the situation. Client 1 signs a lease with Corporate A. The lease is a standard six-month lease making Client 1 bound to pay rent to Corporate A for six months. Rent is due every third of the following months until the lease expires.  This would seem to be a simple and standard lease that is fair, reasonable and easy to abide by. There is no fine print and you completely understand the agreement.

Consider contractual laws, state laws and avoid Common Law. . Louisiana prides itself on being the only state that follows Napoleonic Law, which is based on common sense rules rather than legal principles.

Landlord laws are  governed by the rules of contract and the rules of land. To break it down, a contract is only enforceable if these four conditions are met: offer, acceptance, intent to be legally bound and consideration. Without all four elements a contract isn’t valid..

Basically, here’s what needs to happen to make it official:

Landlord: “Hey, want to see my house?”

You: “Yea, definitely.”

*Sees house

You: “I love this house. I need to rent this house.”

Landlord: “Cool, sign here.”

You: “Eh, make it $50 less a month and clean the carpets and you’ve got a deal.”

*Signs contract

Make sense?

When a tenant, aka you, enters into an agreement with a landlord, land laws apply. You now have the right to inspect the property and request repairs. In return, your landlord has the right to expect you to not f*ck up his house. The tenant has a responsibility to pay the rent on time and the landlord has the right to inspect his/her property (by giving a reasonable notice to the tenant). Also, make sure everything is in writing. Spoken promises mean nothing unless they’re copied onto a piece of paper and signed.

Let’s bring back the Corporate A and Client 1 scenario from earlier. Make sure to avoid quasi-contracts. Quasi-contracts are not legally bound contracts. Simply saying that you understand a landlord’s rights and responsibilities versus your rights and responsibilities as applicable to Louisiana laws, is not enough. Only through an express contract, or a contract that states all specifics needed,  can you have a successful landlord and tenant relationship. Without this, there is no way to discuss the landlord and tenant relationship.

Know your rights and responsibilities and become as informed as you can before you make the decision to enter into a lease with a landlord. Knowledge is power and a great lease, right?

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