Written by: Hannah Adams, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Louisiana law provides ways for landlords and tenants to handle security deposits. The law states that landlords must return a security deposit, and/or an itemized list of deductions, within 30 days of a tenant vacating the property. Deductions can be made for damage above normal wear, or rent and other fees due under the lease. If a landlord fails to send the deposit or an accounting within 30 days of a written demand letter from the tenant providing a forwarding address, the landlord may be charged penalties on top of the deposit. As of January 1, 2019, these penalties increased to $300 or two times the amount of the deposit wrongfully withheld, whichever is greater. Tenants can also collect court costs and attorney's fees if they file in court. For example, if a tenant pays an $800 security deposit and the landlord fails to return it or send a list of deductions in response to a written demand letter, the tenant could be awarded as much as $2,400 in court plus costs and attorneys fees.
Advice to Tenants
Louisiana Law Help has an article with a sample Notice of Intent to Vacate and a sample Security Deposit Demand Letter . After 30 days, the tenant can file a small claims lawsuit to recoup their deposit. Louisiana Law Help provides detailed information and instructions about security deposits.