Louisiana has always been a tough place to be a renter as rents rose 49 percent in the past 20 years at the same time incomes took an 8 percent cut. In New Orleans, the overall eviction rate is almost double the national rate, while some neighborhoods hit closer to four times the rate.
The rental laws there have always favored landlords, but more tenant activism is leading to changes, including to the Louisiana eviction laws. While the changes are small and slow, the upheaval of the past two years has shone a bright light on the laws and actions of landlords.
Let’s take a look at what’s changed recently and how the process works today.
Changes to Louisiana Eviction Laws
Louisiana eviction laws in 2021 had no changes made, but two big events did influence changes to come. The end of the CDC eviction moratoriums in August meant more eviction cases would hit the courts. Hurricane Ida hit land a few weeks later and highlighted an issue with renters being kicked out of their homes after they evacuated.
One real change to the Louisiana eviction laws in 2022 comes in House Bill 160, which passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The bill was the direct result of landlords pushing tenants out of liveable apartments after Hurricane Ida. Many of these tenants evacuated and returned home to find their belongings tossed and locks changed.
HB 160 would prevent eviction for those tenants who are forced to leave their homes for up to 30 days. It applies to areas that receive a federal disaster declaration.
The bill also adds a new penalty for landlords who try to skip the court eviction process. Illegal evictions would result in a payment of the greater of $500 or twice the amount of monthly rent.
While rental assistance programs took a while to get off the ground, they provided relief for landlords and tenants alike. Louisiana was one of six states that passed rules to govern the behavior of landlords who accept funds from the program. These landlords agree to:
- Not evict for past due rent from before April 2020
- Not evict for at least 60 days after assistance ends
- Forgive rent-related penalties, interest, and court costs incurred between April 2020 and when they got rental assistance
On the Horizon
Looking ahead, efforts continue to make further changes to the eviction laws in Louisiana. Various groups championing tenant rights push for reforms that would bring the state laws more in line with other states.
Chief among the requests are the following:
- Default 10-day grace period for late rent payments
- Prohibit inclusion of a clause in lease that waives the five-day notice for eviction
- Give judges more flexibility on delaying evictions for tenants with serious hardships
Permitted Reasons for Eviction in Louisiana
The state laws generally favor landlords, who hold broad authority to evict. Most evictions fall into three categories, however:
- Non-payment of rent
- Violation of lease
- End of lease/No lease
There is no legally required grace period, so rent is late the day after it’s due. The landlord has to provide a five-day notice to pay if they want to pursue eviction. The process stops if the tenant gets the rent paid, although the landlord is not required to allow them to give them the chance to pay past-due rent in full to avoid eviction.
For lease violations, the notice requirement is a five-day notice to quit. The landlord doesn’t have to provide an opportunity for the tenant to correct the violation.
Tenant-at-will situations come up at the end of a lease when the landlord doesn’t want to renew or if there is no governing lease. In these cases, the time given in the notice to quit depends on the type of tenancy.
Know the Louisiana Eviction Process
The minimal change in Louisiana eviction laws means the eviction process remains largely the same as in previous years. The process can take two-to-five weeks depending on the reason for the eviction and whether or not there is a written lease. If the tenant files an appeal, you can expect it to take much longer.
The process starts by posting notice for the tenant that the landlord will be pursuing eviction for one of the three reasons listed above. Louisiana does permit a written lease to include a waiver of the notice requirement.
Once notice is given, the landlord files a complaint with the appropriate court, which issues a rule for possession ordering the tenant to appear for an eviction hearing. The summons is served by the sheriff or constable at least two days before the hearing.
If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing, the process continues, often resulting in a default judgment for the landlord. The tenant can file an appeal of the ruling, although they still have to move out until the case is decided unless they filed a written answer to the complaint.
Once the writ of possession is issued, tenants are allowed to remove their belongings before they would be forcibly removed from the property. They typically get 24 hours to move, although the judge can extend that time.
Manage Eviction Risks With Good Screening
Getting good tenants starts with good screening, which can reduce the risk that you’ll end up in court pursuing an eviction. It starts by setting your specific criteria for tenants like credit score and income level.
Once you get the rental application, you should have all the details you need to run background and criminal checks as well as verify income. Using an application ensures you follow the same steps with every potential tenant.
Formal screening should include pulling a credit report and running a background check. These allow you to see past rental history and see what kind of tenant they might be. You want to avoid high-risk applicants who might become problem tenants that eventually require eviction.
Need Help With Screening Louisiana Tenants?
The new Louisiana eviction laws show a desire to provide better protection for tenants caught out by disasters and hold landlords accountable when they accept assistance money. The laws may continue to evolve to include further protections, which landlords need to be aware of to ensure they follow the eviction steps properly.
Looking for ways to manage your eviction risks? Our tenant screening service makes it easy for you to customize your criteria and conduct credit and background checks all from a single dashboard.