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Judge blocks Lake Charles landlord from kicking out residents following Hurricane Laura

2 months 6 days 7 hours ago Friday, September 18 2020 Sep 18, 2020 September 18, 2020 3:18 PM September 18, 2020 in News
Source: Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana district judge has temporarily blocked the owners of an apartment complex in Lake Charles from kicking out residents after Hurricane Laura.

Nearly 200 families were threatened with eviction after being forced hundreds of miles from their homes when Laura struck the southwest part of the state.

Bill Quigley, an attorney at the College of Law at Loyola University New Orleans, said 191 people who live at the Wilshire Apartment Homes in Lake Charles received letters from their landlord saying they must retrieve their belongings or their property would be put on the street. Documents residents received, provided to The Associated Press, also show their leases were terminated as of Sept. 3, Quigley said.

District Judge Robert L. Wyatt’s temporary restraining order, served this week, prohibits the landlord from “acting in any way to evict residents or interfere with the petitioner’s peaceable possession of their apartments ... without first affording them judicial process in accordance with Louisiana law.”

Wyatt’s order also said the defendants could not cancel the residents’ leases or require residents to sign a lease termination and waiver to get their belongings. He also ordered the owners to publicly tell tenants about his order.

A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Oct. 8 in state district court in Lake Charles.

Hurricane Laura made landfall Aug. 27 near Cameron, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm. It raked coastal communities as well as the city of Lake Charles, where buildings were demolished and trees toppled. At least 28 deaths have been attributed to the storm.

Many of the apartment complex’s residents are being housed in hotels in the New Orleans area, about 190 miles (305 kilometers) from Lake Charles.

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