Landlords may not be able to legally evict tenants due to Louisiana’s stay-at-home order through April 30th, but that does not excuse someone from paying rent.  Staff attorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Hannah Adams says tenants have legal protection from a landlord’s retaliation for not paying rent.

“It is 100% illegal for a landlord to lock you out of your home, cut off your lights or other utilities, change the lock, or physically remove you or your possessions from the home,” said Adams.

A landlord might threaten to call the police to have a tenant removed, but Adams says that is not within police jurisdiction.

“Police do not have jurisdiction to put you out of your home and if the landlord calls them, most likely they’ll show up and call the landlord to go file an eviction in court because it is not a matter that they can handle,” said Adams.

Adams says it is important to have some sort of documentation on hand, whether it is a lease, a utility bill, or a piece of mail showing that you reside at the address in the event that you are accused of not being a tenant.

“Sometimes we see landlords who say to the police, ‘Oh, this person is just trespassing and squatting at my house,’ and you want to make sure you have documentation ready to show the police in that worst-case scenario that, in fact, you live there,” said Adams.

On the federal level, the CARES Act prevents landlords from evicting tenants and/or charging late fees through July 25th for tenants with Section 8 vouchers, Rural Development vouchers, or if a landlord has a HUD, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac mortgage.