First and Second City Court recently announced the continued suspension of all in-person proceedings, including evictions, through May 18. 

During the suspension, landlords cannot legally force tenants to leave due to nonpayment of rent. Local and state officials, including Gov. Edwards today in his Monday press briefing are reminding that they legally owe rent based on their lease agreements and may face eviction proceedings due to nonpayment once the courts resume.

Wwhile some landlords may be willing to re-negotiate the amount under the circumstances; however they are not legally obligated to do so. 

“What ever terms who are able to negotiate, make sure you put that in writing,” Edwards said in response to a write-in question from a member of the public during his press briefing. “Obviously the rent obligation continues. And for those individuals that are able to make their payments, they should continue to make their payments.”

Landlords need a court order to legally event a tenant, so no evictions can occur before courts reopen. Some tenants may have additional protections if their property is covered by the Federal CARES Act, which prohibits evictions from certain dwellings as outlined in the law until July 25. 

For more information about tenants’ rights, click here.

Additionally, lenders cannot start or proceed with a foreclosure for holders of FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA direct or guaranteed loan, or VA direct or guaranteed mortgages for at least 60 days from March 18. The CARES Act entitles borrowers with federally-backed mortgages who have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 to request a mortgage forbearance for up to 180 days, with an extension of an additional 180 days possible.

During a period of forbearance, no fees, penalties, or interest shall accrue on the borrower’s account beyond the amounts scheduled or calculated as if the borrower made all contractual payments on time and in full under the terms of the mortgage contract. At the end of the forbearance, options can include paying all missed payments at one time, spread out over a period of months, or added as additional payments or a lump sum at the end of the mortgage. 

For more information about foreclosure prevention, click here.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services provides free, civil legal aid to low-income people, including issues surrounding tenants rights, landlord-tenant negotiation, and foreclosure prevention. Residents in need should call the toll-free hotline Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 1-844-244-7871.

Residents who are being illegally evicted by their landlords should report them to 3-1-1. If the eviction is in progress, the Orleans Parish Communication District will dispatch the Orleans Parish Constable, which has jurisdiction over that part of the city. If the eviction is planned for a future date, a 3-1-1 service request will be created and routed to the Constable’s Office. The Constable has the primary responsibility to enforce the eviction laws and the current stay order.

Additionally, the Civil District Court’s Courthouse will remain closed to the public until Monday, May 18, 2020. All civil jury trials are suspended until July 1. Civil hearings, scheduled between May 1-18, may proceed by video conference with the consent of the parties.

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