One of the most common reasons an eviction occurs is when the tenant fails to pay rent. This article will explain the steps the landlord must take to evict the tenant who fails to pay rent.
Rent is always due on the first day of every month, unless the lease say otherwise. It does not matter if the first of the month is a weekend or holiday; rent is due on that day. The landlord is not required to give the tenant a grace period before charging a late fee or taking steps toward eviction.
However, the landlord and the tenant can agree to different terms within the lease. For example, the landlord could agree not to charge a late fee for three days after rent is due. Whatever the agreement, it must be in writing and be part of the lease. Then, the landlord and the tenant are both required to follow the terms of the lease.
If a tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, a landlord can give the tenant a five-day notice to vacate. This is the first step toward eviction. The five-day notice must state that the tenant has five days to move out of the rental unit or the landlord will file an eviction lawsuit with the court. The five days does not include weekends or holidays. The landlord is not required to accept rent payments after giving the tenant this five-day notice. This means that even if the tenant pays rent in full after receiving the five-day notice to vacate, the landlord can still proceed with the eviction (see La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 4701).
A five-day notice to vacate must be written and include the following information:
Since the tenant cannot stop the eviction by paying rent, the notice does not need to include the amount of rent due and owing. However, the landlord may want to include this information as it will likely be needed for the eviction lawsuit.
It is best for the landlord, or the landlord’s agent, to give the five-day notice to vacate directly to the tenant. However, if the landlord cannot find the tenant, then the landlord may post the notice to the front door of the rental unit (see La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 4703).
If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit within the five-day period, then the landlord can file a petition with the justice of the peace for the county in which the rental unit is located. This will begin the eviction lawsuit with the court. The court will set a date and time for a hearing before a judge, and the tenant will be notified of the eviction. If the judge decides the eviction should occur, the tenant will have 24 hours to move out of the rental unit. If the tenant does not move out within 24 hours, the judge will issue a warrant for possession, which is a court order authorizing the local sheriff or constable to perform the eviction against the tenant (see La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 4731–4734).
Please note that the only way to evict a tenant is by going to court and receiving permission from a judge. The landlord cannot try to evict a tenant through any other means, such as changing the locks on the doors or shutting off the utilities to the rental unit. This type of action is often referred to as a “self-help” eviction, and the tenant can sue the landlord if the landlord attempts this (see Weber v. McMillan, 285 So.2d 349 (1973)). For more information on “self-help” evictions, see the Nolo article Illegal Eviction Procedures in Louisiana.
The City of Shreveport provides information on evictions through its website, along with sample forms. Legal aid organizations, such as the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services can provide information for landlord-tenant issues as well.
Nolo also has other very helpful articles on landlord-tenant relations in Louisiana, including tenant defenses to evictions in Louisiana. The Louisiana charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo website also have useful information. For more eviction articles, see Nolo’s section on Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease.