Concerning Eviction Proceedings in the City Court of Houma
*This is meant to explain in general terms some of the law and procedure applicable to eviction proceedings.
*This is not meant as legal advice. If you do not understand anything relating to your rights, you should always consult an attorney.
PURPOSE OF EVICTION
The purpose of an eviction proceeding is the removal of a tenant from rental property. The most common reason for an eviction is NON-PAYMENT OF RENT. However, there may be other reasons. For example, if there is no specified lease and rent is on a month to month basis, just as the tenant has the right to give notice and leave without any reason, so too, the landlord has the right to give the tenant notice to leave.
Also, there may be a lease but the tenant is violating one or more terms thereof. Normally, the lease provides that the tenant must be given some sort of written notice that he is violating the lease and allowed an opportunity to rectify the problem, the landlord can then give the tenant a NOTICE TO QUIT.
It is very important that the law be complied with since the courts have repeatedly held that literal compliance with all statutory requirements is sacramental to the validity of an eviction proceeding (Herman vs. Style Line Greetings, 289 So. 2d 876).
FIRST NOTICE OF EVICTION
(Notice to Quit)
The first step in an eviction proceeding is serving NOTICE TO QUIT on the tenant. The notice can be served by the landlord or through the Sheriff, Marshal or Constable. The law says that if the tenant cannot be found the notice can be posted on a door.
If the reason for the eviction is for NON-PAYMENT of rent or a violation of the lease, the tenant has no less than five (5) days after receiving the notice to vacate. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are not counted in these five (5) days.
If the rent is on a month to month basis and the landlord does not want to renew it, the landlord must give at least a ten (10) day notice before the rent is due again.
If the rent is not paid on the date it is due, the law states that thereafter the tenant can still be evicted even if the tenant later tenders payment. The landlord is not required to accept payment.
If any part of the rent is accepted after the Notice to Quit has been filed, the owner loses his right to evict.
The Notice to Quit must state the reason(s) for the eviction. For example, if the reason for the eviction is non-payment of rent, the notice must state non-payment of rent. If there is a lease violation, the notice must particularize the alleged violation. If there is no lease and the rental is on a month to month basis or if the lease is expiring and the landlord does not want to renew it, the notice must so state - the landlord is not required to give any reasons why he does not want to renew it, just as the tenant does not have to give a reason if the tenant wants to move out.
SECOND NOTICE OF EVICTION
If the Notice to Quit has been served, the number of days have passed, and the tenant and/or his belongings still occupy the premises, the landlord must then file with the court (District Court, City Court, Justice of the Peace) a Rule to Show Cause. A court date, not earlier than the third day after service, is scheduled and the tenant is served notice to appear. Again, if the tenant cannot be found, the notice is posted on a door.
HEARING ON RULE TO SHOW CAUSE
At the hearing, the parties can testify and/or have witnesses testify and/or introduce any type of evidence supporting their position.
RENDERING AND EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT
If the landlord proves his case, the Judge must immediately render a Judgment of Eviction. The Judge must decide one way or other; he is not to take the matter under advisement. Once a judgment is executor, the tenant thereafter has (24) hours to vacate. If he does not vacate, the court shall authorize the Sheriff, Marshal or Constable to do what is necessary to evict the tenant and his belongings from the premises.
APPEAL OF JUDGMENT
The tenant or landlord can appeal to the appropriate Court (First Circuit Court of Appeals in Baton Rouge, La.) but this does not suspend execution of a Judgment of Eviction, unless
a. the tenant has answered the rule under Oath, and
b. the tenant has plead an affirmative defense entitling him to retain possession, and
c. the appeal has been applied for and the Appeal Bond has been filed within (24) hours after Rendition of Judgment of Eviction
Sometimes the tenant does not pay the rent because the tenant feels the landlord has failed to perform repairs and maintenance; this is not the correct way to do this. The law says that the tenant can sue the landlord to require him to perform repairs - of course, this is not feasible unless the tenant has a long term lease because if the tenant does not have a lease, the landlord can ask the tenant to vacate.
The law further provides that if the landlord fails to make necessary and required repairs and maintenance, the tenant is allowed to do so and deduct the cost from the rent.
**You should consult an attorney if you have any questions.