Landlord Eviction Process in Louisiana: A Comprehensive Guide
Though Louisiana eviction laws vary from place to place, the eviction process is similar across jurisdictions. Apart from varying laws, another variable in the Louisiana eviction process is the lease or rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. For landlords, careful record-keeping can help in ensuring there are no loopholes an erring tenant could exploit.
Notably, Louisiana has no state statute that prohibits landlords from retaliatory evictions against tenants for exercising their legal rights (such as dragging the landlord to court or opting to join a tenant’s union). More on that below.
How Landlord-Friendly is Louisiana?
This list of landlord-friendly states ranks Louisiana 26th, and the state seems to have laws that favor landlords more than tenants. Supporting this viewpoint is the absence of rent control regulations and the relative freedom of landlords to fix and raise rental prices, evict tenants, and have access to properties anytime they like. Louisiana also ranks among the states with the fastest eviction processes in the US. Landlords can sue tenants who owe rent within just three days after the due date, even without a prior written notice.
Rights of Louisiana Landlords
Under Louisiana state law, landlords have specific rights that allow them to operate successful rental businesses somewhat shielded from legal issues. Key among such rights include:
Collection of rent payments when due
Taking legal action to evict any tenant that breaches a lease agreement
Demanding a security deposit for unforeseen costs such as damage beyond the usual wear and tear
Louisiana Landlord Responsibilities
For every right, there's a responsibility. Just as they enjoy certain rights, Louisiana landlords are also saddled with certain responsibilities aimed at ensuring a harmonious and safe experience for their tenants. The major Louisiana landlord responsibilities are:
Ensuring that their rental units are habitable for tenants
Carrying out needed repairs in a “timely manner” after being notified by a tenant
Compliance with laws regulating security deposits and the eviction process in Louisiana
Rights of Louisiana Tenants
Tenants in Louisiana have fundamental rights that seek to guarantee their safety and legal protection. The following are some key Louisiana tenant rights:
Staying in a unit that is safe and habitable
Repairs being carried out in a “timely manner” after notifying the landlord in writing
Leveraging the “repair and deduct” provision if the landlord does not carry out the repairs in a reasonable time
Lousiana Tenant Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of every Louisiana renter to:
Ensure timely payment of rent
Tidy the place up and make sure the plumbing and other amenities are functioning well
Refrain from purposefully damaging the property
Comply with housing laws that promote health and safety
Apart from taking care of rental topics such as evictions and security deposits, Louisiana law touches on other areas. Below are a couple of them.
As noted above, Louisiana law (unlike those of most other states) does not prevent landlords from retaliating against tenants who take protected actions, for example, reporting the landlord for health and safety violations. However, Louisiana law does consider retaliation as a potential defense when a landlord tries to evict a tenant. This implies that a tenant who feels his landlord has retaliated against him for taking a protected action may be able to defend himself against eviction by arguing that the landlord's actions amount to retaliation.
Louisiana's landlord-tenant law requires landlords to provide tenants with just one disclosure before the commencement of the lease period. The disclosure in question is a lead-based paint disclosure that applies to only landlords whose rental properties were developed before 1978.
What Can Make a Louisiana Landlord Evict a Tenant?
A Louisiana landlord has no legal right to evict a tenant unless the tenant violates any of the lease agreements, in which case an eviction lawsuit may result. However, even with such lease violations, the landlord must give the tenant proper notice if he hopes to achieve a successful eviction. Here are the conditions that qualify as lease violations under Louisiana law.
Failure to Pay Rent
Failing to pay rent on time can lead to a tenant's eviction in Louisiana. A key requirement for the landlord is to first serve the tenant with a 5-day notice to leave his rental property for not paying promptly. This time is meant to give the tenant some opportunity to either meet his rent obligation or quit. Though rent is usually due at the beginning of each pay period, the date of due payment may be decided by both parties in the lease agreement. In Louisiana, rent payments are considered late immediately after the due date.
If the tenant fails to pay (or complete) his rent fee by the end of the 5-day notice period, the landlord can commence legal action for eviction.
No Lease or End of Lease
Under Louisiana laws, a tenant without a lease or whose lease has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”) can be evicted by his landlord. In this case, the tenant must also receive an eviction notice. The landlord is free to evict the tenant if he does not move by the end of the notification period.
Violation of the Rental Agreements
Any Louisiana tenant who does not abide by the rental agreement terms of the lease can be evicted after proper notification. Some lease term violation examples include:
Accommodating unauthorized persons in the rental property
Deliberate or negligent property damage
Not allowing the landlord to have access to the apartment
Failure to keep the premises tidy
Constituting nuisance or disturbing the peace and enjoyment of other individuals
Louisiana law does not require landlords to give tenants a chance to fix a lease violation. This means that it is the landlord’s discretion to ask the tenant either to pack out within 5 days or face legal action.
Steps for Evictions Under Louisiana Eviction Laws
The eviction process in Louisiana is a complex journey of the following steps or actions involving the landlord, tenant, and law enforcement.
Quit Notice From Landlord to Tenant
The first step of the eviction process under Loiusiana eviction laws is for the landlord to serve the tenant what is known as “notice to vacate” in Loiusiana. This notice can be given to the tenant in person, posted on the door of his residence, or mailed.
The notice to vacate is unconditional, meaning that it is not mandatory that landlords give tenants an opportunity to pay rent or fix a lease violation when serving a notice to vacate. Additionally, it is possible for a landlord to waive the notice in the initial lease agreement. Where such is the case, the landlord can proceed with an eviction lawsuit without notifying the tenant [La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 4701 (2023)].
It is recommended that landlords always keep the original signed notice and declaration of service as evidence of proper service in court.
Here is a breakdown of the notice periods for each of the various tenancy durations under Louisiana's eviction process:
Rent Payment FrequencyNotice to vacate Period
Year-to-year 30 days
Quarter-to-quarter 30 days
Month-to-month 10 days
Week-to-week 5 Days
No definite term 5 Days
Note that the above notices are just to vacate. But there’s also another notice, a “5-day notice to comply or vacate.” This notice seeks to allow the tenant a few days to address whatever is causing the rift with the landlord.
Landlord Files An Eviction Lawsuit
If the tenant vacates the rental unit within the specified number of days on notice or complies by addressing the cause of the animosity, then the landlord will have no need to file an eviction lawsuit. If not, the eviction process will continue with the landlord approaching a court to vacate the tenant. Filing an eviction lawsuit in Louisiana is known as "filing a rule for possession" (or rule to evict).
The rule for possession is essentially the commencement of eviction proceedings in a court of law. It orders the tenant to make a court appearance for a hearing. A rule for possession lawsuit can be filed at either a city or district court or a justice of the peace court. The grounds for the eviction must clearly be spelled out in the lawsuit [La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 4731 (2023)].
For city and district courts, the rule for possession shall be in written form and must specify the cause for the eviction.
For justice in the peace courts, the rule for possession does not need to be in written form.
Court Serves the Tenant
Louisiana eviction laws demand that the landlord must liaise with the sheriff or other law enforcement officer to serve the rule for possession to the tenant on his behalf. This is because neither the landlord nor anyone related to the lawsuit (e.g., a person employed by the landlord) is permitted by law to serve the rule for possession.
The rule for possession must be served to the tenant at least two days before the hearing takes place. The three ways to serve the tenant are:
Personal Service: The sheriff or constable personally delivers the rule for possession to the tenant
Posting: The sheriff or constable leaves a copy of the documents for the tenant in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rental property
Mailing: This option only applies to New Orleans residents
Answer or Defense
A response by the tenant facing eviction can be in the form of filing an answer or an affirmative defense to the eviction suit. A written answer is not required before a tenant appears in court for the eviction hearing unless the tenant intends to appeal. In the absence of a written answer, the tenant should immediately respond orally or affirmatively.
If the tenant is determined to be a low-income earner that cannot afford a filing fee, a form known as “In Forma Pauperis” can be used in court to ask the court to waive the fee. The tenant’s proof of income must be attached to the form.
Trial on Eviction
The eviction trial can commence as soon as three days after the client is served. To establish his case beyond reasonable doubt, the landlord must prove that:
He and the tenant signed a written agreement covering the lease (agreements may also be oral)
The agreement has expired or otherwise been terminated
He properly served the notice to vacate or notice to comply or vacate upon the tenant
Failure of the tenant facing eviction to appear for the hearing will lead to a discontinuation of the case, following which the judge may rule in the landlord’s favor.
Writ of Possession
If the judge rules against the tenant, the court will issue a writ of possession or a writ of execution to that effect. This could occur at the eviction hearing or on another day. The writ of possession serves as a final notice to the tenant to vacate the property. It offers the tenant 24 hours to vacate the rental unit with his belongings or be forced out, unless he files an appeal. If the tenant fails to leave within the specified time and does not appeal the judgment, the landlord may invite the sheriff or constable to enforce the writ of possession.
The writ of possession empowers the sheriff, constable, or marshal to clear the rental unit of the tenant's belongings in the presence of two witnesses. If necessary, they may break open any locked door, window, or gate on the leased premises, preventing them from access.
After the tenant is evicted, the landlord can ask the tenant to pay any unpaid rent or for damage to the property. The landlord can also retain the tenant's security deposit, covering the amounts owed. If the landlord feels the tenant might be able to pay the debt, he can file a separate lawsuit to recover funds that are beyond what the security deposit can cover.
Appeal and Bond
If the tenant pleads an affirmative defense under oath and also files an appeal bond, the Louisiana law eviction process permits an appeal that may lead to the judge suspending the eviction.
As noted above, tenants who file an appeal will still have to vacate the rental unit while the appeal process is ongoing, unless they object to the eviction by filing a written answer to the complaint.
Timeline for the Eviction Process in Louisiana
A Louisiana eviction process can be concluded between two to five weeks but can take longer, depending on the reason for the eviction, whether or not the tenant appeals the eviction, which days courts are in session (or otherwise), and other possible delays.
The purpose of Louisiana’s landlord-tenant laws is to ensure the protection of both parties' rights while also spelling out their responsibilities so that the entire rental process is characterized by harmony, fairness, and equality.
For landlords, understanding and complying with these regulations not only protects their rental business but also facilitates positive relationships with their tenants. Similarly, these laws enable tenants to come to terms with their roles in maintaining the property they leased as well as how to protect themselves from eviction and other legal issues.
Finally, to ensure smooth coexistence, both landlords and tenants should do their due diligence to assimilate Louisiana’s rental laws as they are presently and as they change over time.
Insure Your Louisiana Property at Steadily
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