With all this flooding and property damage in South Louisiana, landlords and tenants alike have been left to question, “How does this destruction impact my lease?”
Not surprisingly, the first place you should look to answer that question is the leasing agreement itself. Also not surprisingly, the second place you should look to answer that question is Louisiana Law.
Many times, particularly in the case of a commercial property, the rights and obligations of the parties are clearly provided for when the property is damaged. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the landlord to be granted decision rights on whether to cancel the lease or keep it in effect while the property is repaired.
However, many leases are silent on what happens in this scenario. But if you Google Louisiana Civil Code articles 2714 and 2715, you’ll notice the Louisiana Legislature has filled in the gaps.
Generally speaking, the answer depends on the extent of the damage. If the property is totally destroyed, the lease terminates. If the property is partially destroyed, the tenant is entitled to either a reduction in rent or a cancellation of the lease, “whichever is more appropriate under the circumstances.”
Of course, these articles are deceptively clear, with the exception of the “whichever is more appropriate under the circumstances” part. Nonetheless, when there’s six feet of water in your apartment or business, I think common sense should dictate.