As South Louisiana residents we despise one thing more than the Atlanta Falcons: hurricanes. Having lived through storms and gutted our fair share of Slidell buildings in our lifetime, we understand how stressful it can be when you've been uprooted from your home or handling repairs. Not just as a Slidell personal injury law firm but as Slidell residents too.
That's why we've put together some resources for our fellow Hurricane Ida survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi. All of this information was also presented by us in conjunction with East St. Tammany Habitat For Humanity & Habitat Young Professionals Northshore on September 8, 2021.
If you are displaced let your landlord know! (Certain leases have an abandonment clause)- text or email is fine for now if the mail isn't running; note why you are sending a text or email.
Tenants who have struggled to pay rent through the COVID-19 pandemic were protected under a Centers for Disease Control moratorium until Aug. 27. Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed an order that suspends all court deadlines in Louisiana through Friday Sept. 24 to account for Hurricane Ida's impact on the legal system. It applies to evictions, which landlords won't be able to file until after that date. Evictions and all court proceedings have largely been put on hold in southeast Louisiana since the hurricane forced courthouses to close (22nd JDC is closed until at least Sept 13). Under Edwards' order, the eviction process could not begin sooner than Sept. 27, when landlords would have to give five days notice to any tenants they plan to evict.
READ YOUR LEASE! This is going to control most of your answers so please read it.
1. Do you still have to pay rent?
YES, YES, YES, YES. It is an “act of god” that MAY allow you to terminate the lease but it doesn’t get you off the hook for paying rent or rent reduction.
2. Do I still have to pay rent if I am month to month lease?
YES!! HOWEVER- you should notify your landlord via certified mail that you wish not to renew the lease. That prevents you from owing future rent.
3. Renter’s Rights re: cancelling (or terminate) leases:
a. Before you do anything take photos of the unit/home
b. If you want to terminate your lease then you need to send a written demand letter via certified mail to your landlord AND ask for security deposit back. You MUST give your landlord a forwarding address in the letter.
c. State why you are terminating the lease- explain why the “damage to the unit/home is substantial”
d. Deliver the keys back to the landlord (notify landlord where you returned the keys)
4. Can you get your security deposit back?
Remember, read your lease, but you can IF your unit was destroyed because of the hurricane or other Act of God.
a. HOWEVER- your landlord can deduct from that security deposit for damage caused by you or your guests or for fees or rent that are still owed on the lease.
b. Landlord has 30 days to return deposit OR provide you a reason in writing explaining why they are keeping the security deposit or a portion of it
a. Read your lease, read your lease, read your lease. Ex: roof language v. walls. Who is responsible?
b. You may be eligible to deduct repairs from FUTURE rent BUT not rent that is currently due or past due. Don’t assume that. You have to get a court order or get it in writing from the landlord saying that’s ok to do. KEEP ALL RECEIPTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Households across Southeastern Louisiana may apply for FEMA’s Individuals & Households Program as well as Other Needs Assistance through disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (available 7 AM – 1 AM ET, 7 Days a week).
Survivors have 60 days from the date of declaration (August 29, 2021) to apply.
If FEMA provides notice that you are eligible for Transitional Shelter Assistance, you may apply online: FEMA Evacuee Lodging Provider List (femaevachotels.com)
Louisiana's Federal Disaster SNAP request is in process. However, residents of parishes approved for federal Individual Assistance as a result of Hurricane Ida are encouraged to pre-register for Disaster SNAP benefits (DSNAP).
Operation Blue Roof is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for FEMA.
The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA):
Please remember to practice self-care for yourself and staff. The DDH: 1-800-985-5990 is a free national confidential hotline available 24/7 to anyone in the U.S.
Vibrant Health also offers a Crisis & Emotional Care Team comprised of trained mental health professionals who can provided dedicated psychological support for your teams/people served, both in-person or virtually. Email Vibrant's CECT at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Mental health is near and dear to our hearts in this office and we even experienced PTSD resurgence after the storm necessitating additional therapy sessions. This is normal and it is ok to seek help.
Insurance claims aren't limited to residences. Businesses affected by Hurricane Ida may also have claims for property damage, inventory damage, and business interruption. These types of claims are considered "personal injury" claims even if they may not seem like they are.
Many people have already seen adjusters, turned in estimates and are waiting to receive their checks to begin work.
To be specific, you will need to contact your mortgagee. You will want to ask them what their procedure is, because there are many different procedures for getting the check endorsed and cashed.
Some banks will be much easier than others...some will require a signed contract with a contractor that will be doing the work and some may require the final invoice.
Once you find out what your bank requires, you will be able to figure out what to do next.
If you are worried you will need up front money for work to be done and your bank wants to wait for the final invoice, go ahead and start writing up your CONTENTS LIST and turn it into your insurance company. This does not require the mortgagee on it and will put some money in your pocket.
Don't wait, get estimates now. The more information you already have and upload into your claim the more you are helping things along.
That’s ok. They are there to get their eyes on your property and an overview of the OBVIOUS large damage. They are equipped to use Eagle View aerial imagery for measuring roofs. It is nearly impossible for them to include everything in their estimates, which is why you will turn in invoices and contractor contracts for supplemental payments. Your contractors will be in your home taking note of the details, which will be sent into your claim.
The claims department will pay you for what each of those items are WORTH TODAY, their depreciated value, BUT as soon as you replace that item and turn in the receipt, you will be paid the difference. This only applies if you have Replacement cost on your policy, so check with your agent or adjuster.
The item does not have to be replaced with the exact same thing, only similar in like and kind.