Lawyers’ Committee Recommendations Included in Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb’s Bill to Revise Louisiana Landlord-Tenant Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 06, 2014
Stacie B. Royster
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
202-662-8317 or 202-445-6101 (c)
WASHINGTON, D.C.– On February 27, 2014 Louisiana State Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb submitted Senate Bill No. 298. The bill would significantly revise current landlord-tenant laws, bringing Louisiana closer in line with best practices for protecting tenants’ rights. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) strongly supports the bill, which, if passed, will provide critically needed protections for many low-income and minority renters.
The Lawyers’ Committee’s Fair Housing & Community Development Project and the University of the District of Columbia’s Community Development Law Clinic assisted the Louisiana Housing Alliance (LHA) in researching and drafting much of the proposed language of the bill, and on January 15, Lawyers’ Committee Counsel David Zisser, LHA Executive Director Marla Newman, and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) Executive Director Laura Tuggle testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee A. The bill incorporates recommendations made at that hearing that, among other things, clarify the “repair and deduct” process, require notice of rent increases for month-to-month leases, provide tenants the “right to cure” a violation before eviction, and increase the required time to provide notice of eviction.
“We commend Senator Dorsey-Colomb for taking this bold step towards improving tenant protections in Louisiana,” said David Zisser of the Lawyers’ Committee. “Without this bill, tenants will continue to be unfairly vulnerable to eviction with very little time to relocate.”
The Lawyers’ Committee also coordinated with professors and students at Tulane University’s Public Law Center and Loyola University’s Law Clinic, which researched and drafted language providing additional protections to survivors of domestic violence and ensuring the return of security deposits, respectively. In addition, SLLS provided invaluable insights into key issues affecting tenants.
Emma Kingsdorf, Student Practitioner at Loyola’s Community Justice Clinic explained, “If passed, this legislation would have a huge impact on helping our clients who struggle relentlessly and often have to litigate to get their security deposit funds returned. It would also help level the playing field for both landlord and tenant.”
Currently, the law allows landlords to give tenants just five days’ notice and 24 hours to leave after a court issues a judgment of eviction. This bill would increase that notice period to 30 days and give tenants three to five days to leave after a court order. In addition, under current law, a tenant who violates the terms of the lease has no opportunity to remedy the violation before being evicted. The proposed legislation would give the tenant 14 days to cure the violation unless it is the second time such non-compliance has occurred within a specified time period.
“The Lawyers’ Committee and our local partners hope that the Louisiana Senate will adopt this important legislation and protect the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable renters statewide,” said Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee.
About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2013 and continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending; community development; employment; voting; education and environmental justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.