LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – News Ten receives daily calls and complaints from tenants about housing issues. That’s why we found out what rights tenants have. News Ten’s Rodricka Taylor explored what tenants can do when they have a problem with their landlord.
Marc Rörk is the Louisiana Outside Counsel of Health and Ethics Endowed Professor at Southern University Law Center. He said tenants have the right to demand certain repairs to the premises from their landlord if those repairs interfere with this fundamental right to habitability.
As for the landlord, he said the most important right is generally the right to collect rent and the ability to reclaim the property through eviction proceedings if the tenant fails to pay rent.
“If the landlord doesn’t make those repairs within 14 days, the renter can make those repairs themselves and deduct the amount from their rent obligation,” Roark said.
As a renter, Roark said he is alert to whether the landlord has placed any of these obligations on the renter to make repairs themselves and whether there is a clear basis for notifying when those repairs should be made.
“If they want to stay in the apartment, they’ll probably have to find a way to work with the landlord, either by taking the repair agent themselves and deducting the rent, or by persuading the landlord to make the repairs and make the premises safe and livable.” “, he said.
News Ten spoke to Ivan Martin, a tenant at the Ortego Apartments in Grand Coteau. Martin shared that he has been living in his apartment for seven years. He claims to have issues with mold, electrical issues, and additional floor issues that have not been addressed by management.
Dealing with the mold in his place, he said a doctor told him the breathing problems, chronic fatigue and heart problems he was experiencing were due to the “toxic” mold.
“I have a lawyer. She sent them a submission letter requesting what we wanted done,” Martin said. “When you’re dealing with landlords, all they care about is paying the rent,” Martin said.
He said the apartment was recently bought by new owners about four and a half years ago. Since then he gave them a list of repairs that needed to be made. He said nothing had been addressed until about two weeks ago. When things finally got done, Martin said he was told the repairs in his place were excessive and they would have to undress him to do the repairs, but they only gave him the option of moving into a one-bedroom , which is one less bedroom than his current home has, or moving out of the property.
“What do we do with the things that don’t fit in one bedroom? They said you have to store it and pay for it yourself, which I told them no. I don’t think that’s right as you should have addressed these issues years ago,” Martin said. “I know the landlord-tenant law very well and it makes me feel that the tenant has no rights.”
News Ten reached out to management.
“Ortego Apartments works with a local contractor to fix any issues in our apartments. The contractor has been on site for the last two weeks. We have offered free temporary one-bedroom apartments with additional on-site storage to tenants who need to move out of their homes to complete repairs,” said Jennifer Holder, senior manager.
Southern University Clinic Program: Staff are available for assistance Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. C: 225-465-5700 or E:[email protected]
Here are some links and a PDF to explain more rights as a renter: