FOX 8 Defenders: Renters dispute with landlords

The FOX 8 Defenders and The National Council of Jewish Women have been wrestling with a barrage of calls from tenants who are having issues with their landlords.

The Defenders have been getting about two dozen calls a month related to landlord-tenant issues. In most cases, it comes down to a misunderstanding of who's responsible for what.

"One of the biggest concerns that we hear is tenants don't like the apartment once they move in. If it isn't as you were promised, don't move in."

The Defenders Susan Tramontana says chances are, a renter's issues wont be fixed after they've moved in.

Prior to signing a lease, always get agreed upon repairs in writing.

"Another big problem is security deposits. They don't understand, they put money down, and three days later they change their mind. They are not entitled to money their back unless a property manager or owner doesn't live up to their obligation," says Tramontana.

Deposits to hold apartments are not refundable if a tenant simply decides they no longer want the unit. When it comes to damage deposits, a landlord has 30 days to return the money and a letter explaining any deductions from the deposit.

One of the biggest issues is what constitutes normal wear and tear. That's a gray area. Tramontana suggests renters pull out their cameras before taking over the property.

"Be extra cautious. We recommend they take pictures of the unit before moving in so if there's an issue the tenant can possibly prove their point in court," said Tramontana.

It's also a wise strategy for tenants and landlords to go through a checklist prior to move in day, noting what's damaged and what's worn.

You can find a sample checklist in the Attorney General's guide to renting in Louisiana.

"I recommend all tenants and landlords review it," said Tramontana.

One other big sticking point: withholding rent for wanted repairs. Legally, tenants need to request the repair in writing and give the landlord a reasonable period of time - usually 15-30 days - to address the problem. Otherwise, withholding rent could get you evicted.

If you a consumer problem, you can contact the FOX 8 Defenders at 1-877-670-6397.