Evicting a Difficult Tenant in Louisiana

While there are certainly landlords in Louisiana who do not fulfill their obligations, tenants can also create great financial hardship and strain on landlords. Difficult tenants can cause damage to property, they can fail to pay rent, and they also can create dangers to the general public. If anybody gets injured as a result of a tenant’s actions, the landlord will surely have to raise legal defenses to protect themselves.

The good news for landlords is that Louisiana law makes it fairly easy to evict a tenant who is in violation of a lease agreement.

Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure art. 4701 relates to termination of a lease in the event of expiration or non-payment by the tenant. Specifically, Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure art. 4701 states that:

When a lessee's right of occupancy has ceased because of the termination of the lease by expiration of its term, action by the lessor, nonpayment of rent, or for any other reason, and the lessor wishes to obtain possession of the premises, the lessor or his agent shall cause written notice to vacate the premises to be delivered to the lessee.  The notice shall allow the lessee not less than five days from the date of its delivery to vacate the leased premises.

If the lease has no definite term, the notice required by law for its termination shall be considered as a notice to vacate under this Article.  If the lease has a definite term, notice to vacate may be given not more than thirty days before the expiration of the term.

Landlords should be very attentive to these “Notice to Vacate” requirements. Failure to follow these rules, may result in a delay, or even worse a wrongful eviction counter-suit. The lease may contain an express provision that waives the notice requirement which may make it easier for the landlord to move forward with an eviction. These notice requirements are also set forth in Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure art. 4702.

Many local Louisiana courthouses will have a handbook or information book for landlords seeking an eviction of a difficult tenant. The Clerk of Courts understand that many evictions are handled without the assistance of legal counsel. Considering this fact, landlords representing themselves should always call their local courthouse to see if there are any handbooks to assist in an eviction process.

If the tenant still does not vacate the premises after the Notice to Vacate is delivered, a “Rule for Possession” should be filed with the local Clerk of Court. Landlords should always notify the Clerk of Court of the amount of the rent to ensure they are in right court. For example, many city courts have jurisdictional limits of $3,000 on the monthly rent for commercial or residential properties. If the rent exceeds the jurisdictional limit, the landlord may need to file in their local District Court.

Finally, if the landlord is successful at the trial of the Rule for Possession, Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure art. 4732 states that:

If the court finds the lessor or owner entitled to the relief sought, or if the lessee or occupant fails to answer or to appear at the trial, the court shall render immediately a judgment of eviction ordering the lessee or occupant to deliver possession of the premises to the lessor or owner.

If the tenant has caused excessive damage to the property, the landlord may want to seek consultation with a local attorney to pursue all civil remedies, or even notify the local police department if the damage to the property was intentional.