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Refunding Security Deposits...What are the legal requirements?​

Whether you are a tenant expecting your deposit back after moving out, or a landlord using the deposit to fix damages left by a tenant, here is the breakdown of the landlord/tenant deposit responsibilities.

 

Question: "I am a landlord in Calcasieu Parish. Do I have to give my tenant a breakdown of money deducted from their deposit, and if so, what is the time period? They damaged my property, and I asked them to leave before the lease is up."

 

Yes, the landlord does have an obligation to provide an accounting to the tenant when he or she withholds money from the tenant's security deposit to pay for damages, clean up, etc. that is above "normal wear and tear." The landlord must do so within one month of the termination of the lease. We had a very similar question from a tenant back on our July 8, 2015 segment. The answer from the segment lays out the ins and outs of refunds of security deposits and is reprinted here. Generally speaking, the landlord of a residential property has a legal obligation to refund the security deposit to the tenant UNLESS the tenant has either defaulted in some way or caused some type of unusual repair or clean up need that is not considered "normal wear and tear." If the landlord fails to return the deposit for no valid reason, then the tenant can seek up $200 from the landlord. The court may (but it is not required to) award an aggrieved tenant attorney fees and court costs. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:3251 provides in part that: (1) all residential landlords shall refund security deposits within one month after the lease ends; (2) but, the landlord may retain all or any of the deposit which is reasonably necessary to remedy a default of the tenant or to remedy unreasonable wear to the premises; (3) If any of the deposit is retained – the landlord must provide an itemized accounting that explains why it was necessary to keep some or all of the deposit; (4) The tenant shall furnish a forwarding address to the landlord; (5) Landlord has no obligation to refund if the tenant abandons the lease premises. If the landlord fails to refund or fails to provide an accounting, then he or she could face penalties. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:3251 provides that the willful failure of a landlord to refund a security deposit shall give the tenant or lessee the right to recover actual damages or two hundred dollars, whichever is greater, from the landlord or lessor. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:3253 allows (BUT DOES NOT REQUIRE) a judge in its discretion to award costs and attorney's fees to the prevailing party.

 

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