Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Louisiana

Key laws every Louisiana landlord and tenant needs to know.

By , Attorney UC Berkeley School of Law
Updated 5/28/2024

Louisiana laws govern much of the landlord-tenant relationship, including security deposits, late rent, and evictions. Here's a breakdown of key laws that affect nearly all Louisiana landlords and tenants.

Louisiana Rental Application and Screening Laws

Louisiana law regulates very little of the tenant application and screening process.

Application Fees

There is no law in Louisiana that prohibits landlords from charging an application fee. However, landlords do need to tell applicants specific information about application fees (see "Required Landlord Disclosures in Louisiana," below).

Tenant Screening Reports

A tenant screening report is a credit report, criminal background report, employment history report, or rental history report that a landlord uses to determine whether an applicant would be an acceptable tenant. Louisiana landlords are free to charge reasonable amounts for tenant screening reports.

Criminal History Screening

Louisiana does not have a state law prohibiting landlords from considering applicants' criminal histories. However, landlords must still be careful. When landlords consider applicants' criminal history, they must do so in a consistent, nondiscriminatory manner. If a landlord's practice of considering criminal history has a discriminatory effect—for example, if the landlord asks only applicants of a certain color for criminal history information—the landlord is engaging in illegal discrimination and can be subject to penalties. Also, landlords can reject applicants only for past convictions that are directly related to the application—in other words, convictions that have a negative bearing on a legitimate business concern of the landlord.

Fair Housing Laws

All landlords need to follow federal and state antidiscrimination laws when screening applicants for a rental. Federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of:

  • race or color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • familial status or age (includes families with children under the age of 18 and pregnant women)
  • disability or handicap, and
  • sex (includes gender identity and sexual orientation).

Louisiana's fair housing law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of natural, protective, or cultural hairstyle. (La. Rev. Stat. § 51:2606 (2024).)

For more information about Louisiana's fair housing laws, check out the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center's website.

Louisiana Security Deposit Laws

Louisiana doesn't set a cap on how much landlords can charge for a security deposit. It does regulate how a landlord must return a security deposit.

Security Deposit Return

Landlords can use the security deposit to cover unpaid rent and the costs of making repairs to damage caused by the tenant. Landlords must return to the tenant any unused portion of the security deposit within one month after the end of the tenancy. If a landlord keeps any of the security deposit, they must send the tenant an itemized statement accounting for how the deposit was used. The tenant should provide the landlord with a forwarding address for purposes of returning the deposit and the itemization. (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:3251 (2024).)

If a landlord willfully fails to return the security deposit, the tenant is entitled to the return of the deposit plus the greater of either $300 or twice the amount of the deposit that was wrongfully withheld. Under Louisiana law, a landlord's failure to return the deposit is "willful" if the landlord doesn't return the deposit within 30 days of a written demand. (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:3252 (2024).)

Required Landlord Disclosures in Louisiana

In many states, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants and potential tenants. Louisiana landlords must disclose information about:

  • Application fees: Landlords can't charge an application fee unless they give applicants written notice of (1) the amount of the fee (2) whether the landlord will consider credit scores, employment history, criminal history, or eviction records in deciding whether to rent to the applicant; and (3) permission for the applicant to provide a statement of 200 words or less explaining that the applicant has experienced financial hardship resulting from a state or federally declared disaster or emergency, and how that hardship impacted the applicant's credit, employment, or rental history (the landlord must reference COVID-19 and hurricanes). (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:3258.1 (2024).)
  • Foreclosure: Before entering into a lease or rental agreement, landlords must disclose to potential tenants their right to receive notification of any future foreclosure action. If the premises are currently subject to a foreclosure action, the landlord must also disclose this in writing. (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:3260.1 (2024).)

In addition, landlords in all states must follow federal lead-based paint disclosure rules.

Louisiana Late Fees and Other Rent Rules

Unless the landlord and tenant agree to another due date for rent, rent is due at the beginning of the term. (La. Civ. Code Art. 2703 (2024).)

Grace Periods and Late Fees

Louisiana doesn't require landlords to give tenants a grace period for paying rent. However, a landlord and tenant can agree in the lease or rental agreement that there will be a grace period.

Louisiana landlords can charge late fees, and there is no cap on how much they can charge. Most judges won't enforce unreasonable late fees, though. In general, a late fee will be considered reasonable as long as it doesn't exceed 4%-5% of the rent and has an upper limit.

Rent Increases

Louisiana landlords can't raise the rent during the term of a lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.

For month-to-month tenancies, Louisiana law doesn't specify the amount of notice landlords must give to raise the rent. A reasonable amount of notice would likely be the same length of time that the agreement is for: 30 days.

Louisiana Landlords Must Provide Habitable Rentals

Like landlords in all states, Louisiana landlords must provide rentals that are safe and fit for human habitation. Specifically, landlords are required to make all repairs necessary to maintain the rental in a suitable condition. (La. Civ. Code Art. 2691 (2024).) Under Louisiana law, the landlord also must provide a rental that is "free of vices or defects" that prevent its being used as a rental. (La. Civ. Code Art. 2696 (2024).) This duty is present even if it's not mentioned in the lease or rental agreement, and is known in legal terms as the "implied warranty of habitability."

Tenant Rights to Repair and Deduct in Louisiana

When a landlord isn't living up to the duty to provide a habitable rental, the tenant must make a demand for the landlord to perform repairs (the demand should always be in writing). If the landlord doesn't then make the repairs in a reasonable time, the tenant can have the repairs made. The tenant can then demand reimbursement of the costs of making the repairs or can deduct the amount of the repair from the rent. The amount paid must be necessary and reasonable. (La. Civ. Code Art. 2694 (2024).)

Small Claims Lawsuits in Louisiana

If you find yourself in a battle over a security deposit or repairs, small claims court is a good place to bring your grievance. Though not always referred to as "small claims" courts in Louisiana, courts of limited jurisdiction might be appropriate for landlords and tenants involved in disputes. The rules for filing in small claims court in Louisiana vary by parish, but in most courts, cases are limited to disputes over $5,000 or less.

Louisiana Termination and Eviction Rules

Louisiana landlords must follow very specific rules and procedures to terminate a tenancy and then, if necessary, file an eviction lawsuit.

Notice of Termination for Cause

Louisiana law defines legal cause for eviction very broadly. The most common causes are:

However, Louisiana eviction law also states that the tenancy can be terminated for any other legal reason. (Evictions based on discriminatory reasons or as retaliation for a tenant's exercising a legal right are not considered legal.)

In general, the most common reason for eviction besides failure to pay rent or a lease violation is a tenant's participation in illegal activity on the premises—acts such as using drugs, dealing drugs, or participating in gang activity.

When a Louisiana landlord has cause to terminate a tenancy, they must serve the tenant with a 5-day notice to vacate. Unlike landlords in many other states, Louisiana landlords don't have to give tenants a chance to fix whatever the problem is before they file for an eviction—they can simply serve an unconditional notice to quit.

For details on Louisiana evictions, see the article The Eviction Process in Louisiana.

How Month-to-Month Tenancies End in Louisiana

When a landlord wishes to end a month-to-month tenancy but doesn't have legal cause, the landlord can give the tenant notice to terminate 10 calendar days before the end of the month. This notice must inform the tenant that the month-to-month tenancy will end at the end of 10 days, and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. If the tenant doesn't move out, the landlord can file for an eviction. (La. Civ. Code Art. 2728 (2024).)

Ending a Tenancy With a Long-Term Lease Without Cause

When a landlord wishes to end a fixed-term lease but doesn't have cause to evict the tenant, the landlord has to wait until the lease has expired before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord isn't required to give the tenant notice of the approaching end of the tenancy unless the terms of the lease require it.

Tenant Defenses to Eviction

Even though a landlord might have a valid reason to evict a tenant, the tenant can still choose to fight the eviction. For example, the tenant could claim that the eviction is the result of the landlord illegally discriminating, or is in retaliation for the tenant exercising a legal right.

Louisiana law also allows special protections for tenants who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. Some of these protections might provide a tenant with a defense against eviction. (La. Rev. Stat. §§ 9:3261.1, 9:3261.2 (2024).)

A tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction, and it could result in the tenant having more time to remain in the rental. For these reasons, it's often in the best interests of both the tenant and the landlord to try to negotiate a compromise rather than head to court. Mediation is a common way for landlords and tenants to work issues out—check to see if your community has a low-cost or free housing mediation program.

Illegal Evictions

In Louisiana, landlords can't resort to self-help—such as changing locks or turning off utilities—to remove a tenant from a rental. Instead, all removals of tenants must go through the judicial process. If a landlord illegally removes a tenant, the tenant can sue, and the court will determine the amount of damages the tenant is entitled to receive. (Weber v. McMillan, 285 So.2d 349 (La. Ct. App. 1973).)

Louisiana Rules About Landlords' Access to Property

Landlords can always enter a rental with the tenant's consent or when there's a reasonable belief that there's imminent danger to lives or property. Otherwise, under Louisiana law, tenants are required to give their landlord reasonable access to the rental so the landlord can make repairs. (La. Civ. Code Art. 2693 (2024).) Louisiana law doesn't specify how a landlord should give notice of their intent to enter the rental to make repairs.

Where to Find Louisiana Landlord-Tenant Laws

If you want to read the text of a law itself, visit the Louisiana State Legislature's website.

Local Ordinances Affecting Louisiana Landlords and Tenants

Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in Louisiana and then search when you're on the site.

Municode is a good source for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in Louisiana.

Federal Landlord-Tenant Laws and Regulations

Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in Louisiana. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.

The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.

Nolo Resources on Legal Research and Landlord-Tenant Law

For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.

You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.

For landlords:

For tenants:

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