§ 9:3261.1. Lease agreements for certain residential dwellings; domestic abuse victims
A. This Section shall apply only to a lease agreement for a residential dwelling within a building or structure consisting of six or more separate residential dwellings. The provisions of this Section shall not apply when the structure consists of ten or fewer units and one of the units is occupied by the owner or lessor.
(1) “Accommodation” means the granting by the lessor to a domestic abuse victim the right to execute, renew, or terminate a lease, as applicable under the circumstances, pursuant to the requirements of this Section.
(2) “Domestic abuse” means domestic abuse battery as defined in R.S. 14:35.3 provided that the domestic abuse was committed on the leased premises.
(3) “Domestic abuse offender” means a lessee or household member who has been named as a defendant in a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order or has been identified as a perpetrator of domestic abuse in a Certification of Domestic Abuse.
(4) “Domestic abuse victim” means a lessee or household member who has been named as a petitioner in a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order or has completed a Certification of Domestic Abuse.
(5) “Household member” means a household member as defined in R.S. 14:35.3.
(6) “Qualified third party” means the executive director, program director, or another employee of a community-based shelter contracted with the Department of Children and Family Services pursuant to R.S. 46:2124, provided the employee is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or possesses a masters degree in Social Work (MSW).
(7) “Reasonable documentation” shall be exclusively confined to mean any of the following documents:
(a) A completed Certification of Domestic Abuse form as set forth in this Section, signed under oath by a qualified third party as defined in this Section.
(b) A Uniform Abuse Prevention Order.
C. (1) No lease agreement shall:
(a) Limit the lessee’s right to summon, or any other person’s right to summon, a law enforcement officer or other emergency assistance in response to an emergency or following an incident of domestic abuse on the leased premises.
(b) Assess monetary penalties or other penalties under the lease for the lessee summoning, or for any other person summoning, a law enforcement officer or other emergency assistance in response to an emergency or following an incident of domestic abuse on the leased premises.
(2) A lease provision prohibited under this Subsection shall be null, void, and unenforceable.
D. (1) A lessor shall not:
(a) Refuse to enter into the lease agreement solely on the basis that an applicant, or that applicant’s household member, is or has been a victim of domestic abuse, or, except as provided by Subparagraph (b) of this Paragraph, on the basis of activity directly related to domestic abuse, if that applicant provides reasonable documentation and otherwise qualifies to enter into a lease agreement. The provisions of this Subparagraph shall not apply to an applicant who has previously been evicted by the lessor for any reason.
(b) Terminate the lease agreement, fail to renew the lease agreement, or issue an eviction notice or notice to vacate on the basis that an act of domestic abuse or activity directly related to domestic abuse has occurred on the leased premises and the victim is a lessee or a lessee’s household member. However, if the continued presence of a domestic abuse offender in, or in close proximity to, the lessee’s residential dwelling or apartment results in one or more additional violent disturbances or altercations and those disturbances or altercations pose a threat to the safety or peaceable possession of the premises by the lessee or other residents, then the lessor may evict the lessee, even if the presence of the domestic abuse offender is uninvited or unwelcome by the lessee. In such evictions, at the lessor’s sole discretion, the lessor may permit the lessee to relocate to a different residential dwelling or apartment, provided that another residential dwelling or apartment is available and the lessee otherwise meets the lessor’s qualification standards.
(2) An applicant, lessee, or any household member of an applicant or lessee who is or was the victim of domestic abuse, and who seeks protection under this Section, shall produce to the lessor reasonable documentation of the domestic abuse on or before the date of the lease application, lease termination, lease nonrenewal, or before the judgment or order of eviction is rendered. Failure of the applicant, lessee, or household member of any applicant or lessee to timely produce such reasonable documentation shall preclude and act as a complete bar to that applicant, lessee, or household member asserting claims or causes of action against the lessor for violation of this Subsection.
(3)(a) A lessor who has not yet been given reasonable documentation of the abuse by the lessee and who issues an eviction notice or a notice to vacate to any lessee for any reason allowed under an existing lease agreement, including damage to leased premises, shall not be penalized under this Section.
(b) However, if the sole reason the eviction notice or notice to vacate was issued was a single act of domestic abuse and not an additional act of domestic abuse under Paragraph (D)(1), no breach of the lease has been alleged, and the lessor receives reasonable documentation of domestic abuse before the judgment or order of eviction is rendered, then the lessor shall rescind the eviction notice or notice to vacate.
E. Only a lessee or a household member of the lessee’s residential dwelling unit may be considered a domestic abuse victim such that the lessee may request an accommodation under this Section. In order for a lessee to receive an early termination as provided in this Section, the lessee shall do all of the following:
(1) Assert in writing to the lessor that the lessee, or the lessee’s household member, is a domestic abuse victim and that the lessee seeks the particular accommodation afforded under Subsection F of this Section.
(2) Provide to the lessor reasonable documentation that the lessee seeking an accommodation, or that lessee’s household member, was a victim of an act of domestic abuse on the leased premises within the past thirty days.
(3) Assert in writing that the lessee seeking the accommodation will not knowingly voluntarily permit the domestic abuse offender further access to, visitation on, or occupancy of the lessee’s residential dwelling unit and acknowledging that any violation of this Section may result in eviction or termination of the lease.
(4) Otherwise meet or agree to fulfill all requirements of a lessee under the lease agreement.
(5) If requested by the lessor, provide in writing the name and address of the person named as the defendant, perpetrator or abuser in a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order or Certification of Domestic Abuse form.
F. If a lessee fulfills all of the requirements of Subsection E of this Section, the lessor shall grant the lessee the requested early termination of the lease, as provided by this Subsection:
(1) If the lessee requests early termination of the lease agreement, the lessor shall terminate the lease agreement as a matter of law on a mutually agreed-upon date within thirty days of the written request for accommodation. The lessee requesting the accommodation shall vacate the residential dwelling by that date to avoid liability for future rent.
(2) In such cases, the lessee requesting the accommodation is liable only for rent paid through the early termination date of the lease and any previous obligations to the lessor outstanding on that date. The amount due from the lessee shall be paid to the lessor on or before the date the lessee vacates the dwelling. The lessor may withhold the lessee’s security deposit only for any reason permitted under R.S. 9:3251. If the lessee or an additional lessee is a domestic abuse offender named on reasonable documentation presented to the lessor in a lessee’s request for an accommodation under this Section, the lessor shall be entitled to an immediate eviction of the domestic abuse offender upon presenting the court with reasonable documentation of the abuse.
(3) When there are multiple lessees who are parties to a lease agreement for which the accommodation of early termination is requested by one or more lessees, and upon the lessee’s timely providing to the lessor reasonable documentation of the abuse as required in this Section, the entire lease shall terminate on the mutually agreed-upon date, and the lessor shall be entitled to an immediate eviction of all lessees upon presenting the court with reasonable documentation of the abuse.
G. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to limit a lessor’s right to refuse to enter into a lease agreement, terminate a lease agreement, fail to renew a lease agreement, or issue an eviction notice or notice to vacate to a lessee or tenants pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Article 4701 et seq., for actions unrelated to the act of domestic abuse. Further, a lessor shall be entitled to an immediate eviction of the domestic abuse offender upon presenting the court with reasonable documentation of the abuse, and nothing in this Section shall limit a lessee’s obligation as required by a lease agreement between the lessor and lessee.
H. A Certification of Domestic Abuse form as provided for in this Section shall read substantially the same as follows:
(Name of qualified third party and, if applicable, the name of their shelter, office or agency)
I and/or my (family or household member) have suffered domestic abuse as defined in R.S. 9:3261.1.
Briefly describe the incident giving rise to the claim of domestic abuse:
The incident(s) that I rely on in support of this declaration occurred on the following date(s) and time(s): ________ and at the following location(s): ________.
The incident(s) that I rely on in support of this declaration was/were committed by the following person(s), if known: ________.
I state under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Louisiana that the foregoing is true and correct. By submitting this statement I do not waive any legally recognized privilege protecting any communications that I may have with the agency or representative whose name appears below or with any other person or entity. I understand that my obligation to pay rent does not end until the early termination date of my lease as decided by the lessor or until I vacate the premises upon receiving agreement by the lessor to terminate my obligations under the lease early. I understand that my lessor may keep my security deposit or other amounts as permitted under law.
Dated at __________, Louisiana, __________ this day of ___ 20___.
(Signature of Lessee or Lessee’s family or household member)
I verify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Louisiana that I have provided services to the person whose signature appears above and that, based on information communicated to me by the person whose signature appears above, the individual or his or her family or household member has suffered domestic abuse as defined by R.S. 9:3261.1, and that the individual informed me of the name of the alleged perpetrator of the actions, giving rise to the claim, if known. This verification does not waive any legally recognized privilege that I, my agency, or any of its representatives have with the person whose signature appears above.
Dated this ________ of __________, 20___.
(Signature of qualified third party)
(License number or organizational tax identification number)
I. A civil action for enforcement of rights granted pursuant to this Section may be commenced in state district court by a domestic abuse victim within one year of an alleged violation of this Section. In the civil action, the court may only grant as relief any permanent or temporary injunction, temporary restraining order, or other similar order, as the court deems appropriate.
J. Upon motion of the defendant or upon the court’s own motion, if the court determines that a civil action brought under this Section is frivolous, the court shall award appropriate sanctions pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Article 863.
K. No civil action may be commenced under this Section if the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s household member has knowingly voluntarily permitted the domestic abuse offender access to, visitation on, or occupancy of the lessee’s residential dwelling unit at any time after having requested an accommodation from the lessor under this Section.
L. Notwithstanding 24 Code of Federal Regulations Part 5.2011 and any other provision of law to the contrary, the provisions of this Section shall not supersede 24 CFR Part 5 Subpart L, as amended from time to time, including the programs provided for in 24 CFR Part 5.2009.
M. Lessors or owners of residential dwellings who institute eviction proceedings against domestic abuse offenders under this Section shall be immune from any and all lawsuits, claims, demands, or causes of action filed by or on behalf of domestic abuse offenders for wrongful eviction, breach of contract, termination of the lease in violation of this Section, discrimination under state or federal law, or any other claims or causes of actions arising in any way out of the eviction.