Legal FAQs for Renters in
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Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
What can I do?
I've been sued in court for eviction
What can I do?
Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
- Are there any special protections for Louisiana renters during COVID-19?
Louisiana's statewide emergency protections for renters have expired, though some renters may be protected through the national CDC moratorium.
Governor John Bel Edward's Executive Order had previously suspended eviction court proceedings in Louisiana through June 15, 2020, but did not prevent evictions from being filed or enforced against renters. That order has expired.
Louisiana renters may also have federal protections against eviction that last through January 31, 2021. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
- What do the protections mean for Louisiana renters?
If you do not qualify for national protections, then in Louisiana:
- Your landlord can still give you a notice to vacate.
- Your landlord can still file an eviction against you.
- Hearings on eviction are suspended temporarily.
- The court can still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of possession against you, but may extend deadlines.
- Law enforcement can still enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
- Do I still have to pay rent during COVID-19 in Louisiana?
Yes, Louisiana renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You may be protected from eviction based on nonpayment of rent through January 31, 2021. if you follow the CDC's National Eviction Moratorium's rules. But you may be sued for eviction after the special protections end, and will still owe all your rent.
Also check with your local city or parish government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during the emergency in Louisiana?
Your landlord may be able to evict you during the emergency, but you should check to see if you fall within national or local protections.
You may be covered by national protections, or by your local parish and city. Read below to see if you are eligible for national protections.
Also check with your local government to see if they provide any additional local protections.
If you receive a notice to vacate from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit (also called a "rule for possession"), reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency in Louisiana?
The Louisiana Public Services Commission has issued a ban on shutting off utilities during the state of emergency.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.
Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.
Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:
- Rent a home in the United States; AND
- Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
- Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
- Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
- Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
- Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.
If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.
What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?
The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through Jan. 31, 2021.
- If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
- You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:
- Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
- After the CDC Moratorium expires on Jan. 31, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:
- Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
- You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.
How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?
To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:
- Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
- Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
- Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
- Protections through Jan. 31st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through January 31, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
- If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
- You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on Jan. 31, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
- Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.
If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.
What if I need repairs during COVID-19in Louisiana?
Can I break my lease during COVID-19 in Louisiana?
What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me in Louisiana?
Are eviction cases still proceeding through Louisiana court?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
- My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Louisiana. What should I do?
You do not have to leave your home yet.
In Louisiana, if your lease does not waive a notice to vacate or if you live in government subsidized housing (such as Section 8 housing), your landlord must give you a written notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the Louisiana requirements for an eviction notice:
- The notice must be written down.
- It has to have your full name and address, as well as the date it was served to you.
- It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason.
- The notice needs to say that you have 5 days to move out and that your landlord can pursue legal action if you do not move. (You may have more than 5 days if it’s written in your lease.)
- It must say how the notice was delivered - either personally handed to you or mailed in.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
- What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Louisiana?
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
- Do I have to leave my home in Louisiana by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date?
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Louisiana. What if I can't afford to pay it?
How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice in Louisiana to pay back the rent to stop the eviction?
I've been sued in court for eviction
- My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Louisiana. What should I do?
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Louisiana, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
- Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Citation and Rule for Possession. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This can be the sheriff or a constable.
- The notice has to be given to you personally, or left with a member of your household that is of age, or posted on your door.
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
- Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.
You will have 3 days after you receive the Citation and Rule for Possession to get a written response back to the court. If you do not submit this response by the 3rd day, you may lose your case and the judge may give the landlord permission to remove you from your home.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
- Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Louisiana?
You can come to an agreement, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
Its information is taken from these sources:Supreme Court orderLouisiana Gov. orderLouisiana utilities orderPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker