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Eviction Process in Louisiana (Guide)

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Contents
How to Use This Guide Step-by-Step Guide to Evictions in Louisiana Learn More About the Notice to Vacate About the Notice to Vacate Steps to Answering an Eviction Suit Information About Answering an Eviction Tips for Preparing Your Answer FAQs About Eviction Trials

How to Use This Guide

Below you will find a list of steps in the Louisiana eviction process.  You can click on each step to jump to a brief description of that step on this page.  For some steps, the description will direct you to a tab above that will provide more detailed information for tenants who may be facing eviction as self-represented litigants

Step-by-Step Guide to Evictions in Louisiana

  1. Notice to Vacate

  2. Rule for Possession 

  3. Service

  4. Answer or Defense

  5. Trial on Eviction

  6. Judgment of Eviction (Writ of Possession)

  7. Appeal and Bond

  8. Related Resources: Links to more eviction content on Louisiana Law Help!

Step 1: Notice to Vacate

Unless there is a written lease with a waiver of the Notice to Vacate requirement, the landlord must prepare and deliver to the tenant a Notice to Vacate. Select the "Notice to Vacate" tab for more information about this step of the process. 

 

Step 2: Rule for Possession / Rule to Evict

If the tenant does not move within five (5) working days of the delivery, posting, or receipt date of the certified mail notice (or the last day of the current rental month, for month-to-month tenants), the landlord may prepare and file a Rule for Possession (also sometimes called a Rule to Evict).

  • In city courts and district courts, the Rule to Evict must be written and must state the cause for the eviction.

  • In justice of the peace courts, the Rule to Evict need not be written.

 

Step 3: Service

The Rule to Evict must be served on the tenant.  Read our article on Understanding Service of Process which explains the ways that a pleading can be served on a party.  

 

Step 4: Answer or Defense

The tenant may respond by filing an Answer or Affirmative Defense to the eviction suit. Select the "Answering an Eviction Suit" tab to learn about the purpose of an answer, how to identify defenses, and how to prepare an answer. 

 

Step 5: Trial on Eviction

A trial can be held as soon as three (3) days after service upon the tenant.  At trial, a landlord seeking eviction of a tenant must prove:

  1. that the landlord and the tenant entered into a lease agreement together;

  2. that the lease agreement has expired or otherwise been terminated; and

  3. that the landlord has properly served the Notice to Vacate upon the tenant as required by law.

 

Step 6: Judgment of Eviction (Writ of Possession)

  • The tenant has only twenty-four (24) hours after the judgment of eviction to vacate the property, unless an appeal is filed.

  • If the tenant does not vacate the premises within twenty-four (24) hours and no appeal is filed, the landlord may contact the sheriff or constable to execute the writ of possession.

 

Step 7: Appeal and Bond

  • If the tenant pleads an affirmative defense under oath and files an appeal bond, an appeal may suspend the judgment of eviction.

 

Related Resources: Links to More Eviction Content on LLH

 

Learn More About the Notice to Vacate

A Notice to Vacate means that your landlord plans to file a lawsuit for your eviction if you don't move out by the end of the notice period.  It is not a court order to move out. The landlord cannot get a court order for eviction until there has been a trial before a judge. It is sometimes called a Notice to Quit. To learn more information about the requirements for a valid notice to vacate including when and how it should be delivered to the tenant, read this article "About the Notice to Vacate".

Steps to Answering an Eviction Suit

 

Step 1: Determine the reason for the eviction

Look at the Notice to Vacate and the Rule for Possession. By law, the landlord must state the reasons for your eviction. The most common reasons for eviction are:

  • nonpayment of rent;
  • violation of the lease;
  • the lease has ended and you did not move out (“owner wants possession”).

 

Step 2: Identify possible defenses

Click on the links below to navigate to our Eviction Information Guide for potential defenses based on the reason or cause for the eviction:

 

Step 3: File a notarized Answer

  • Once potential defenses have been identified, prepare an Answer. The answer must be notarized and then it must be filed with the Court.  You may be required to pay a filing fee or ask the Court for a fee waiver.

  • Sample Answer Form

  • Tips for Preparing Your Answer

  • To find a notary in Louisiana, please search here.

 

Information About Answering an Eviction

File a written "verified answer" to the Rule for Possession with the Clerk's office (or the justice of the peace) before the trial begins. A "verified answer" must state your defenses and must include a notarized affidavit by you swearing that the statements in your answer are true. Your answer should also deny any incorrect statements made by the landlord in his Rule for Possession.

 

If possible, your answer should include a defense that would give you the right to stay in your apartment even if the landlord's claims were true. The judge's equitable discretion not to cancel the lease should be listed in your answer.

 

Find out in advance if there are any court costs to file your answer. Many justice of the peace courts do not charge tenants court fees for their answers. However, parish and city courts generally charge tenants for an answer to an eviction.

 

If you cannot afford the costs, ask the court to allow you to file your answer for free. To do so, you must file a notarized Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. You will also need to get a friend or relative to sign an affidavit saying that you cannot afford the court costs and attach proof of your income.

 

It is important to file an answer before the court if you want to be able to appeal your eviction and stay in your home during the appeal. You can still appeal if you don’t file an answer, but you will have to move during the appeal.

 

To stop your eviction, you must also go to the trial and present your defenses.  Be on time for your trial. And have your witnesses and papers that support your defense with you.

FAQs About Eviction Trials

How will I know when the eviction trial will be? +

A constable or sheriff will give you the Rule for Possession or post it on your door. If you live on the east bank of New Orleans, the court should also mail you a copy. The landlord can have these papers sent to you anytime after the end of the Notice To Vacate period.

 

The Rule for Possession must be served on you at least 2 full days before the trial. The court date cannot be set before the third day after the notice is served. The Rule for Possession should tell you the date, time and place of the trial and the reasons why the landlord wants to evict you.

What happens at the trial? +

Your landlord and you will be sworn in as witnesses.

 

At the trial, the landlord should tell the judge what notice he gave you and why he wants you evicted.

 

Before anything else happens, you should tell the judge if you think the landlord's notice was defective. This is the time to tell the judge if the landlord:

  • did not give you enough notice, or
  • accepted your rent after the Notice to Vacate, or
  • filed his Rule for Possession before the time in the Notice to Vacate ended.

If the judge finds that the landlord's notice was defective, he should dismiss the eviction and make your landlord start the eviction process all over.

 

If the landlord's notice is OK, testimony and argument on the eviction should begin.

 

If you failed to pay rent, the landlord will simply testify that you did not pay the rent or that you did not pay it on time. If the eviction is for a lease violation, the landlord and his witnesses will testify as to facts that support the lease violation. Your landlord is not allowed to testify about what other people told him if those people aren’t in court to testify. This is called “hearsay” and it is not allowed.

 

You have the right to ask the landlord and his witnesses questions that help show that the landlord's claim or story is wrong. You can also ask them questions that help support your defenses or your story of what happened. This is called "cross-examination."

 

After the landlord has completed his case, it is your turn to put on your case. This is the time to speak up for yourself and your family. Don't be bullied or railroaded into silence by the judge. You have the right to testify as to facts that will support your defenses. You may have witnesses testify on your behalf. You may submit papers that help prove your case.

 

It is easy to get nervous at a trial. So, before the trial, you should make a short list of all the important facts that support the defenses that you claimed in your written answer. Before you quit, make sure you or your witnesses have told the judge about each of the facts that support your defenses. Also, make sure that you have submitted any papers to the judge that support your case.

 

If you have a lease, you should always bring the original and 2 copies to the trial. Believe it or not, many landlords do not bring a copy of the lease to the trial. If this happens, it may be because your landlord thinks the lease will hurt his case or require the judge to rule in your favor. If the case involves a lease violation, a copy of the lease should be given to the judge.

 

In most evictions, the judge makes his decision at the end of the trial and in the presence of the landlord and you. If he rules in the landlord's favor, he will sign a judgment ordering your eviction. If he rules in your favor, you should ask him for a written judgment dismissing the eviction.

 

Warning: If you do not appear for your trial, the judge will rule in your landlord's favor and order you evicted. Even if you have moved out you should go to court and tell the judge so you don’t end up with an eviction on your record. Be on time for your trial.

What if I lose at trial? +

You can be evicted as early as 24 hours after the judgment.

If you filed a verified answer, you have the right to stop the eviction by filing an appeal within 24 hours of the judgment. To get your appeal, you must also file an appeal bond. The appeal bond is money you deposit into the court registry to protect your landlord in case your appeal is not justified. The bond is usually set as one month’s rent, but it is up to the judge. A higher court will review your appeal and decide whether the trial judge was right or wrong. If you timely filed your appeal and bond, you can stay in your apartment until the appeal is decided by the higher court.

Will the Court give me more time to move? +

Sometimes. Generally, most judges will only give you extra time if the landlord agrees to extra time. Ask the judge for extra time if you need it. Explain what hardship you will suffer if you have to move out right away. If you have looked hard for a new place to live, but still have not found one, it may help to explain this. There is no legal right to extra time, but some judges may give you extra time if you really need it.

What happens if I do not go to the eviction trial? +

You will lose. The judge will most likely enter a "default judgment" against you. Then the landlord can get a "Warrant for Possession" 24 hours after the judgment to have you evicted by the constable or sheriff. In some parishes this is called the “Writ of Ejection.” Because your eviction might end up on your record and make it more difficult for you to find future housing, you should go to court no matter what. Even if you moved out already, go to court and tell the judge so that she dismisses the eviction.

 

If you miss your court date because of an emergency (for example you are in the hospital), you should bring documentation to the court showing that you had an emergency and file a motion for a new trial. The motion must be filed within 7 days of the judgment against you, but you should file it as soon as possible because you need to file it before the constable physically puts you out. Judges do not have to grant a new trial when you miss the court date

Last Review and Update: Jul 16, 2020