Judge Michael Keith

Judge Mike Keith - Justice of the Peace for Bossier Parish District 6

Evictions

This section provides an overview of the eviction process of tenants and occupants under Louisiana law.

 NOTICE TO TENANTS, OCCUPANTS, AND TRESPASSERS

There are three categories of persons who may be temporarily in possession of a landlord’s property: criminal trespassers, tenants, and occupants. While eviction laws are mainly concerned with tenants, it is important to know the difference between these categories and the definitions of each.

1) Criminal Trespassers  are persons who intentionally enter a structure, watercraft, or movable without permission or authorization. For example, a hunter who knowingly enters posted property is a criminal trespasser. Likewise, a person who enters property that belongs to someone else without permission and/or remains there after the owner asks them to leave would be committing criminal trespass. Trespassers are subject to immediate arrest and removal by the sheriff.


2) Tenants  are persons who possess the property of a landlord under the terms of a lease or rental agreement. Leases and rental agreements can be written or oral. They can also be for a definite (yearly) or indefinite (month-to-month) term. Tenants are removed by eviction.


3) Occupants are persons, other than a tenant, who have some present or prior claim to possession of the property in question. For example, a person living in an apartment with the landlord’s permission, but without any lease or rental agreement, is an occupant. When the landowner decides to remove the occupant, he does so by eviction.
 


NOTICE TO VACATE

When the tenant’s right to occupy ceases because the term of the lease expires, and the landlord seeks to obtain possession of the premises, the landlord or his agent must have written notice delivered to the tenant. The notice must allow the tenant at least five (5) days to vacate the leased premises from the date on which the notice is delivered. The five (5) day period does not include weekends or holidays and does not include date of service.
 

The notice to vacate should state the reasons for eviction. The most common reasons for eviction include:

  • non-payment of rent,
  • violation of the lease,
  • the lease is ended and the tenant did not move out of the premises


 
When the landlord wishes to evict an occupant after purposes of the occupancy ceases, the landlord or his agent must first deliver written notice to vacate the property to the occupant. The notice to vacate must allow the occupant five (5) days from its delivery to vacate the premises. If the landlord does not have a reason to evict but wants to regain possession of the premises, he must give the tenant written notice of termination in accordance with the law. Under these circumstances, the Notice of Termination will serve as a Notice to Vacate.
 

In a month-to-month lease, the landlord must give at least ten (10) day’s notice prior to the end of the month. For time delays seven (7) days or greater, include weekends and holidays in the count.


EXAMPLE: Landlord and tenant enter into a month-to-month lease on October 1st.   Tenant continually paid rent on time in November, December, January, and February. In February, the landlord decides he no longer wishes to rent the premises. Landlord must serve tenant a Notice of Termination by February 18th in order to properly terminate the lease. If tenant has not moved out on March 1st, the landlord may begin eviction proceedings.

 
Proper Eviction Procedures

 
Proper procedure must be strictly followed!

  •  When the tenant breaches the lease agreement (i.e., failure to pay rent), the landlord must first deliver a written Notice to Vacate to the tenant.
  •  This notice gives the tenant five (5) days, not counting weekends or holidays, to vacate.
  •  If the tenant is not at home when the notice is given, then the notice may be posted on the door of the leased property. This has the same effect as delivering the notice to the tenant. It’s recommended that a witness attend the posting
  • If a tenant fails to vacate within five (5) days of notice, then the landlord will begin eviction proceedings by filing a petition with the Justice of the Peace Court.
  •  The eviction trial will be heard three (3) days after the tenant has been served.
  •  The tenant will be required to appear in court to state why he/she should not be ordered to vacate the property.
  •  If the Justice of the Peace finds the landlord entitled to evict the tenant, or if the tenant fails to appear at the trial, then the court will rule in favor of the landlord.
  •  If the court rules in favor of the landlord, then the tenant will be ordered to vacate the property within twenty-four (24) hours.
  •  If the tenant fails to vacate the premises within twenty-four (24) hours after the landlord is granted a Judgment of Eviction, then the landlord, via the court, will issue a warrant commanding the local sheriff, constable, or marshal to seize the leased property, remove the non-complying tenant, and return possession of the leased property to the landlord.
  •  A tenant who has appeared at the trial and argued a defense can file a suspensive appeal. In addition, an appeal bond must be applied for, and filed within twenty-four (24) hours of Judgment of Eviction. A landlord cannot legally evict a tenant with this procedure.
  •  If the landlord locks the tenant out of the leased property, puts the tenant’s possessions on the street or otherwise takes the law into his/her own hands, the landlord may be liable for damages for wrongful eviction.

 

Landlord / Tenant Law – For additional information go to the Louisiana Attorney General web site at: https://www.ag.state.la.us/Shared/ViewDoc.aspx?Type=3&Doc=220

 

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE  |  BOSSIER PARISH, DISTRICT 6