Is a landlord required to give a tenant a copy of their lease if they lost the one originally given to them?

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Is a landlord required to give a tenant a copy of their lease if they lost the one originally given to them?

I am the landlord of a home that some renters recently moved out of. They are now threatening to “sue” (take me to small claims court) to get their deposit back after leaving my home in a horrible condition. Their deposit was $950 and the damages done are over $1,500. They would like me to send them a copy of the lease (they were originally given one at the time it was signed) I don’t feel comfortable about sending it to them just to “aid” them in “suing” me.

Asked on June 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Okay I can understand how you might not be inclined to send them the lease but in reality they are going to sue you based upon the tenancy (I am assuming that they can show payment of rent each month and the security deposit) and the Judge could order it produced anyway.  Now, if you are justified under the law for withholding the security deposit - and I would check the law on it and follow it to the "t" - then you have nothing to be fearful about.  Just make sure that what ever notice that it is required that you give the tenant about the with holding is given and that you have proof to support your documentation of the damage.  If the lease states how you are to give them notice that is different than the law do both.  Good luck to you.


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