Dig Baton Rouge

Leasing 101: navigating the rental process from start to finish

When it comes to fi nding housing in the Baton Rouge area, most, if not all, students and young professionals are looking at renting a place. Whether it’s an apartment on Burbank or a house off Government, navigating the complicated and sometimes awkward relationship with your landlord can feel like tip-toeing through a minefield.

To maximize your deposit, avoid difficult situations and keep everyone happy, there are a couple of guidelines that should be followed. These suggestions are made specifically for Louisiana, so if you’re moving away soon, be sure to update yourself on any differences that may apply.

 

BEFORE YOU LEASE

When you’re in the market for a new place, your fi rst walkthrough should be a quasi-inspection. According to louisianalawhelp.org, you should make sure that things like the gas, electrical appliances, plumbing and air conditioning are all in working order. Signing a lease on a verbal promise that these things will work by the time you move in is a risky move, so it’s in your best interest to ensure everything is in working order before you sign anything. Bring these troubles to the attention of the landlord; anything not documented as pre-existing before you move in will usually be charged to your deposit when it’s time to leave.

If it’s an option, speak privately with the current tenants and ask about their experiences. Just because a landlord seems cool upfront doesn’t mean things won’t change when you put your name to ink. A quick background check on the people who deal with them now can save a year’s worth of trouble down the road.

Finally, take a good look around the neighborhood. If it’s not a place you feel safe in for the duration of your lease, you should obviously reconsider.

 

DURING YOUR LEASE

Now that you’ve carefully examined the lease, discussed anything you don’t quite understand with the landlord, and moved in, you need to know how to handle any damages that arise. Should appliances like the washer or dryer, ceiling fans, microwave or anything else start to malfunction, notify your landlord ASAP. According to louisianalawhelp.org, it’s their job to send a repairman to take care of anything that you’ve agreed needs to be in working order. Keeping secrets for your landlord is asking for trouble, so don’t be afraid to call with any concerns. It makes you look better for being upfront.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but pay your rent on time. The legal recourse for tenants who don’t pay their rent on time isn’t pretty and can be a pretty big blemish on your overall credit score should your landlord report you to credit bureaus.

 

AFTER YOUR LEASE

When it’s time to move out of your place, take it upon yourself to leave it as clean and as similar to the way it was when you moved in as possible. The landlord will take a hard look at their property after you’ve left to determine how much, if any, of your deposit you will get back. If there are damages that you never told them about, you can bet they’ll dock it from the return, but if you’ve been upfront all year and left the place spotless, it shouldn’t be an issue.

That doesn’t mean some won’t try to take advantage of you, though. Should they try to keep the deposit you feel you’re entitled to, demand an itemized list of everything that needs fixing. Get photos of the damage and receipts for any repairs they’ve already done on your dime. If they don’t oblige, you have the right to sue them for it. These damages cannot include what could be considered “normal wear and tear,” such as a worn carpet in high-traffic areas, faded paint or things of the like. They can, however, deduct you for leaving the place dirty and pay as much as they want for a maid service to take care of it, so bust out the Swiffer and get it spotless.

Overall, the best way to handle your relationship with your landlord is equal parts honesty and common sense. If the home they’ve allowed you to live in is being trashed, they won’t be happy. If you respect the house, pay on time and let them know what’s happening, your relationship with your landlord will be a breeze.

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