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Legal Updates FAQ
Current As of November 2020
Have you gotten a letter or lawsuit about owing money back to ROAD HOME? If so, help may be available for lawsuits and debt collections.
If you have proof any of these problems kept you from elevating or returning to your home, you might be able to get your debt ended or reduced:
Theft or Vandalism
Later Property Damage (hurricane, flood, fire, etc.)
Money used for rent or other housing costs (After August of 2008)
You had to use the funds to pay down or off the mortgage of the damaged property
Copy of contract, receipts, lawsuits filed, proof of incomplete work, police reports, etc.
Police reports, insurance claims, civil or criminal complaints, proof of damage, receipts or proof of stolen items, etc.
Insurance claims or paperwork, building inspections, photos of damages, etc.
Lease agreements, rent receipts, hotel/motel receipts, etc.
Mortgage Payoff letter, copies of insurance checks, payoff statements, etc.
These are some of the common problems and documents used to show what happened. This is not a list of every problem or every document you may need. Keep the documents in a safe place. Make copies, take pictures or scan the documents. A lawyer experienced in dealing with Road Home collections can help you through this. To see if Southeast Louisiana Legal Services can provide free help, call 1-844-244-7871.
There are many reasons why the agency (LWC) can cut off your unemployment after it started. These include failing to do your weekly certifications, misreporting something to the agency, and others. You should get a written notice about any cut-off. If your unemployment benefits have been cut off, you can call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
The cut-off notice should say why your benefits are being stopped and say how you can appeal. It should be mailed unless you signed up with the agency to get notices another way, like by email. You should always be able to see any notices through your online “HIRE” account.
There are only 15 days to appeal a notice. The appeal is easy to file. But if your benefits stop, it is important to look in HIRE immediately for a notice if you have not gotten one.
Some cut-offs can also be fixed if you do something the agency says you failed to do. If you fix the issue, your benefits can restart the next week. For example, if you missed your weekly certification, go ahead and do your certification the next week. You will only lose one week’s benefits. If you are unemployed long enough that your benefits run out, you will end up being paid the same number of weeks as you would have been anyway (making up for your missed week).
But the agency should not:
If either occurs after you were approved for unemployment benefits, courts are likely to rule that the State has to follow certain steps before your benefits are cut off. In many cases, Louisiana is not doing these things.
The agency should let you know that it wants to stop your benefits and why.
And it must give you a chance to respond before cutting your benefits off. It can do this by giving you a notice that you can appeal and an appeal decision before your benefits stop.
If your unemployment benefits were stopped and you were not given the reason why and a hearing before they stopped, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to help. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance.
You can appeal any decision that you should not get unemployment or that you have been “overpaid.” Appeal right away to protect your rights! You only have 15 days to submit your appeal. Your notice will include the date you must submit your appeal by. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your right to appeal.
The letter will provide instructions on how to appeal. You can find more information on appeals here.
More information on Unemployment Benefits during Covid can be found here.
Information on Unemployment Overpayments can be found here.
Security Deposit Refunds: This Spanish language information guide includes links to LawHelp Interactive interviews in Spanish to generate letters for different stages in the deposit recovery process. The letters appear in a dual-language English/Spanish format.
Unpaid Wages: This Spanish language information guide includes a link to a LawHelp Interactive interview in Spanish to generate an unpaid wages demand letter in a dual-language English/Spanish format.
Unemployment Compensation: This unemployment compensation (UC) guide is in Spanish to inform people about UC basics. Since the guide is based on our English LibGuide with forms for judicial review, those links and related instructions are there. Forms and related information are in English, along with the text of selected statutes. Automated court forms are in English.
Some people in the following Louisiana jobs can get $250 from the state:
The full list of eligible jobs can be found here.
This is separate from the federal stimulus check and unemployment benefits. Even if you received those, you may still be eligible for the $250 if you meet the requirements below.
To get the check, you must apply. Funds may run out, so sooner is better. If you are eligible, apply as soon as possible.
If you have questions about the program or the application, you can call the Louisiana Department of Revenue at (855) 307-3893 or visit this website.
Workers who meet all of the following requirements are eligible:
Is a Louisiana resident with $50,000 or less in adjusted gross income on their 2019 Louisiana Income Taxes
Worked outside of their home for at least 200 hours between March 22, 2020, to May 14, 2020
Employed in one of the jobs listed on or after March 11, 2020.
Submitted their application for the program to the Louisiana Department of Revenue before October 31, 2020.
*If you are mailing your application in, it must be postmarked by October 31, 2020.
You can apply online at frontlineworkers.la.gov, or you can apply by printing and mailing the form at http://revenue.louisiana.gov/TaxForms/R-6186%20(7_20)F.pdf to:
Louisiana Department of Revenue
P. O. Box 5128
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
The Frontline Workers COVID-19 Hazard Pay Rebate Program or Covid-19 Hazard Pay.
Maybe. If you worked at least 200 hours from March 22, 2020 to May 14, 2020 and meet the other program requirements, and the money does not run out, you will be eligible. Both part-time and full-time employees can get it.
Yes. As long as you also meet the other requirements, you will be eligible. There is no requirement that the 200 hours need to be all for the same employer.
Yes. As long as you meet all of the requirements of the program, you will be eligible. For example, if you were laid off on April 30, 2020, but already worked 200 hours since March 22, 2020, you will still be eligible.
Yes. You qualify if you received unemployment, as long as you meet the requirements.
Yes. Self-employed people are eligible if all of the requirements are met. You may need to submit more documents.
If you give your bank information on your application, you will be paid by direct deposit. If you do not send your bank information, you will be sent a paper check.
If the Louisiana Department of Revenue has questions about your application, it will send a letter. Be sure that your application has your current address. If you moved after filing your application, call the Department at (855) 307-3893.
If the Department sends a follow-up for more information, you must respond within 30 days or your application will be denied.
Some common errors that can delay payment include:
If your application is denied, you will receive a letter.
Updated September 18, 2020.
If you have received a letter from the Louisiana Workforce Commission saying that your unemployment benefits will end soon or that your benefits have ended, you MAY be eligible for an extension of benefits.
You may have received a notice through your HIRE account or to your email address stating that you are “approaching the maximum payable amount for your benefit year.” This notice states that you should check your claim balance under your claim summary.
This is because Claimants are only allowed to receive benefits for a specific period of time. The length of time will depend on what unemployment compensation program you are under.
There may be other problems with your unemployment account. To check if you have used up all your benefits, you should log into to your HIRE account and follow these steps:
You cannot refile for unemployment benefits until your benefit claim year ends. This is different for each claimant.
Yes. You may qualify for an extension of benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. If you qualify, you may continue to receive benefits for an additional 13 weeks. This benefit is available through December 31, 2020.
Individuals must have used up all 26 weeks of their available benefits with a benefit year ending on or after July 1, 2019. In addition, you must not have rights to any state or federal unemployment compensation and must be available and actively searching for work.
People on “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” already qualify for up to 39 weeks of benefits. So they do not get Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. If you are on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance your notices say this.
Some people are not required to do work searches. For more information about work searches click here.
As soon as you see that your “Claim Benefit Balance” has a zero balance you will need to refile for your benefits. However, you will not be allowed to refile until the following SUNDAY of the last week you receive a weekly benefit amount. The system will not allow you to refile earlier. You may refile for benefits through your HIRE account by following these steps:
If you refile and do not receive any information about your application for extended benefits SLLS can assist you with this process if eligible for our services. You can apply for our services at our webpage or click here for more information.
This amount may vary depending on your situation and wage history. People who may qualify for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation will receive the same weekly benefit amount that would have under their original 26 weeks of unemployment compensation ($10 to $247).
If you have reached the maximum amount of benefits for your regular unemployment compensation and your Pandemic Emergency Unemployment compensation, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if your unemployment has been affected by COVID-19.
These are some examples of COVID-19 related reasons:
Those who are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are allowed to receive benefits for up to 39 weeks. Once you have received benefits for 39 weeks, you will stop receiving payments. Though if you have already received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits you may not qualify again.
Updated September 18, 2020
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has made some old requirements enforceable again. One of these requirements includes the work search requirement which began on August 9, 2020.
A work search is when you contact an employer about a job.
Different places of employment use different ways for people to apply for a job. You may contact an employer by;
Each week you are required to complete three work searches. This means you will have to contact 3 different employers or apply for 3 different jobs each week.
You will need to report your work searches when you are filing your weekly claim certification. When you are done answering questions for your weekly claim certification, it will direct you to different new pages.
The first page will be titled, “Employer Information.” It is important that you give as much information about the job you applied to as best as you can. The information you will need to provide is the following:
Other information you can give to complete your work search if you have it:
The next page will be titled, “Job Title.” You will need to provide the following:
The next page will be titled, “Application Information.” You will need to provide the following:
Providing this information is important and it is important that you answer as accurate as you can to prevent any future problems. The Louisiana Workforce commission will keep a record of your weekly required 3 job searches, but it is important that you keep a personal record of these searches for your protection against any future problems with the agency. Keeping a personal record of these searches is even more important if you are filing your weekly claim certifications through the phone.
You can go to www.louisianaworks.net. There your will find different job openings available for your apply and complete your work search requirement.
Then you may enter in each work search, “COVID-1, COVID-2, and COVID-3” as your three employer contacts. The rest of the spaces asking for additional information can be left blank.
Some claimants are exempt from the Work Search requirement. The agency will not ask them to complete the Work Search requirement. The Louisiana Workforce Commission has stated that there is no need to contact the agency if you are not asked to complete a work search.
Updates as of September 18, 2020
With schools reopening in different ways, unemployment claimants may no longer have to be home to ensure that their children are safe or can continue their education. Under regular unemployment compensation, claimants cannot continue to receive benefits if they are forced to stay home to care for their children. However, the federal Department of Labor has provided guidance to all unemployment agencies on how to work with this new issue for most unemployment claimants to continue receiving their benefits under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
You may not continue receiving unemployment benefits if you are able to telework at home despite your child’s school only offering virtual/online learning.
The only exception to this rule is if your child’s virtual learning is affecting your ability to telework causing reduced hours or keeping you from teleworking all together. Any earnings you have made each week must be reported to the Louisiana Workforce Commission in your weekly claim certifications.
You may qualify for your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as long as you are the only person providing care for your child or children and such child care is required for you to continue working. A school or facility that is only offering a hybrid model of teaching is considered to be closed for the purposes of the CARES act.
However, you cannot receive any benefits if you are teleworking from home or you are receiving any form of paid leave from your former or current employer.
If your child’s school is giving you the option as to what method you want your child to attend and you have chosen for them to do virtual learning you cannot receive your unemployment benefits if that keeps you from being able and available to work.
Schools offering two options to parents are not considered to be closed for the purpose of the CARES Act and those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. There may be a few exceptions to this rule, but each case is different based on one’s individual circumstances.
Some exceptions to his rule may be:
If you have any concerns or are having problems with your unemployment benefits you can apply for our services at our webpage or click here for more information. You may also review the federal guidelines for more information by clicking here.
Updated September 18, 2020
Recently, a computer error notified up to 7,600 people they had to pay back the unemployment benefits they received. The State has reported that they are working on correcting the issue and that the majority of people who were sent these letters by mistake will not owe anything.
But the time to appeal for a “fair hearing” about an unemployment notice is 15 days from the date on the notice. So people who got this notice should appeal within the 15 days unless they receive a correction from the state before then.
Appeal right away to protect your rights! You only have 15 days to submit your appeal. Your letter will include the date you must submit your appeal by. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your right to appeal.
The letter will provide instructions on how to appeal the overpayment. You can appeal:
Louisiana Workforce Commission
Attn: Appeals Tribunal
P.O. Box 94094
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094
*Make sure your appeal is postmarked by the appeal deadline provided on your letter.
If you decide to file an appeal, you should still file your weekly certifications.
You can also call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services to see if we can give you free legal help. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance. But go ahead and appeal before you hear back from Legal Services. Because of the large number of notices, they may not be able to return your call in time.
If your appeal is submitted before the deadline on your letter, a telephone hearing will be scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge, unless the agency fixes the problem ahead of time. Be sure you are available for your hearing. If you cannot make the scheduled time, please contact the agency as soon as possible so that you don’t automatically lose your appeal.
You will be sent a letter with the hearing date, time, and the reason for the hearing. Be sure to read this letter carefully.
The judge must also explain in writing your rights at the hearing. These rights include the right to:
If you are not given the opportunity to appeal or if you are not given information on your hearing, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
At the hearing you will have the opportunity to explain why the overpayment is incorrect or why the amount the State claims that you need to repay is incorrect.
Except for amounts paid by the federal government, you should also be sent papers to fill out about your income and expenses, and have the chance to explain why you cannot pay the overpayment amount and request a waiver. The federal benefits, where hardship does not matter, are:
Early in the pandemic, Governor Edwards ordered that legal deadlines were “suspended.” In other words, the Governor “stopped the clock” on the deadlines to respond to a lawsuit.
Typically, when you are served court papers, you have 10-15 days to respond. The amount of time you have to respond depends on the type of court the case was filed in and the way that you were served.
Under the Governor’s Orders, these deadlines were suspended until July 5, 2020. If your deadline to respond fell between March 17, 2020 and July 5, 2020, you were given until July 6, 2020. For example, if your normal deadline was April 1, 2020, you had until July 6, 2020.
If you do not respond to a lawsuit before the deadline, a “default judgment” may be entered against you. This can give the other side everything they asked for in the case.
If a default judgment was granted against you between March 17, 2020 and July 5, 2020, it’s possible that this judgment may have been illegal.
If you believe that a default judgment against you may have been improper, you should speak to an attorney. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to provide free legal assistance. You can apply by calling 1-844-244-7871.
A Petition for Nullity might be filed to remove the judgment. This is a written request to the court asking that the judgment be vacated.
A Petition for Nullity has some complicated legal rules. It is best if a lawyer can draft it for you.
If a default judgment was granted against you between March 17, 2020 and July 5, 2020, a Petition for Nullity may be able to get it removed, since the deadline for you to respond was extended to July 6, 2020 under the Governor’s Order.
But the Petition for Nullity does not make it so you win the suit. It just gives you a chance to start over and file a response. Eventually, the suit can go to judgment again, after both sides have a chance to make their legal claims. In some cases an attorney may advise you that filing for nullity will not help, because they see no way for you to win the case. Sometimes like this, filing for nullity would just increase court costs you have to pay.
The court will want a filing and service fee to file the petition. More information on what you can do if you cannot afford to pay the filing fees and other court costs can be found here.
If you do not dispute the default judgment, the other side will be able to collect on it (like any other judgment). This may include garnishing your wages or bank account, or getting liens against your property. The judgment may also show up on your credit report and hurt your credit score.
What the courts need to do is different in different situations. In general, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered that video hearings (such as Zoom) should be used as much as possible for court hearings. Some courts are doing most of their hearings that way.
When the courts require people show up in person, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered the courts must take the steps needed to allow social distancing. Under the Governor’s Orders, courts must also enforce mask-wearing throughout the facility.
If you get a notice to go to court, you can call the Judge’s staff (but not the judge) and find out what can be done to keep safe.
If you have been told to come to court, but that would mean a higher risk of getting Covid than you have in your day to day life, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to help you. This includes if you would face a risk in getting to court. (For example, if you would have to use public transportation or get a ride from someone you are not normally close to.) Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
If you requested a hearing by video, you must provide the court with a good phone number and email address that you will be checking daily. The information for your videoconference hearing will likely be sent by email. If your contact information changes, you should let the court know as soon as possible.
You should check your email often (at least daily) leading up to your hearing, since the court may send information about your case and you may need to take action quickly.
Do not ignore the video hearing. If you cannot make the hearing, notify the court in advance (unless it was something like an emergency hospitalization).
If you cannot connect to the hearing using the information sent to you, contact the court immediately. If your connection drops during the hearing or if you are kicked off of the call, immediately try to get back in. If this does not work, contact the court.
If you are able to connect but cannot see or hear the other people on the call, do not just leave the meeting. Try to let the other people on the call know about the issues you are having by either speaking or using the “chat” feature on the program or calling the judge’s staff while the hearing is still happening.
If you do not connect for your hearing and do not answer if the court tries to contact you, a judgment may be entered against you. This may require you to file additional motion(s) and paperwork with the court, or else lose your case.
Other tips for your virtual hearing can be found here.
First call the judge’s staff. (Where to find the number is set out above.) Ask if a decision was made by the court on your case, and if so what can be done to undo it.
If you need help and do not have an attorney on the case, call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
People do not generally have a choice about whether they are involved in court proceedings. (This is different, for example from going to a store or a restaurant where you might be able to “vote with your feet” and choose another restaurant or store if you feel that things are unsafe.)
To try to get things fixed you can:
You can also call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services if you are in a court case and need help keeping safe. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
What provisions of the CARES Act Eviction Moratorium Remain in Effect?
On September 4, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a moratorium (ban) on certain residential evictions through December 31, 2020. For more information on this new moratorium and a link to the required declaration form tenants must fill out, click here.
In addition to the CDC moratorium, certain provisions of the previous eviction moratorium under the CARES Act remain in effect. This document outlines the eviction protections under the CARES Act that remain in effect as of the date of this post.
What provisions of the CARES Act remain in effect (Updated 8/28/2020)
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order halting certain residential evictions due to the Covid-19 public health crisis until December 31, 2020. The order is here.
If you need legal advice on how this order may apply to you, contact:
When does the order become effective?
The order took effect on Friday, September 4, 2020.
What properties are covered?
The CDC order applies to all residential rental properties. But as set out below only certain people are protected.
This is different from the earlier CARES Act eviction moratorium, which was based on whether the property had a federally backed mortgage or federal subsidy. The CDC order does not apply to commercial rental properties (for example, businesses). The CDC order also does not apply to evictions from hotels and motels.
What tenants are covered?
A person is a “covered person” under the order if they give their landlord a declaration under penalty of perjury that:
A suggested declaration containing the required language is available for download here. Every adult member of the household must fill out a declaration.
*Remember that it is a criminal offense to lie on a declaration under penalty of perjury!
Does the declaration have to be notarized?
No. It is sworn, so if you sign it but it does not apply to you, you can be prosecuted for perjury because of the language on the form.
What evictions are covered?
Evictions for non-payment of rent are covered. You can still be evicted for:
Can I still be evicted because my lease is expired?
The order does not say whether you can be evicted because your lease is expired and the owner wants possession. But if people could be evicted because they are month-to-month, the purpose of the order would be totally undermined. A judge will have to decide this issue unless the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarifies it.
You would still have to meet the other requirements on the declaration.
If you are evicted for lease non-renewal it might be important to have an attorney familiar with the CDC order represent you in court. (Call the number above to see if SLLS can provide you with free legal help).
When should I give my declaration to my landlord?
You should provide the form to your landlord as soon as possible. The order does not provide a deadline, as long as it is before you are physically evicted.
How should I give my declaration to my landlord?
You should keep some form of proof for any court that you gave the declaration to your landlord. For example you can:
Can I give something to my landlord to explain the importance of the form?
Here are some helpful documents explaining the CDC eviction moratorium that you can use:
What evidence do I need to back up the declaration?
The order only requires that you provide the declaration to your landlord. However, you should expect that judges may ask you questions about the declaration, so you should be prepared bring the following to court if the landlord files or has filed for an eviction:
What if my landlord already got an eviction judgment but I am still in my apartment because the constable has not come out yet?
If the eviction was for nonpayment of rent you are protected, ONLY IF you quickly take the step to become a “covered person” by giving the declaration to your landlord. So be sure to provide it right away. Then you must call the court and the constable to provide proof that you gave the declaration in order for them to stop the eviction. If this is your situation you should consider contacting an attorney right away. You may qualify for free legal aid from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at (504) 529-1000 x.223.
Here is the CDC suggested declaration form.
If you provide the declaration, you would be protected because the order says that ‘Eviction’’ means “any action by a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from a residential property.” After your landlord gets an eviction judgment, if you do not vacate the landlord has to go back to the court to file a “warrant for possession” or “writ of ejection” for the constable to come out and remove you. The order would bar the landlord from getting the warrant and putting you out, as long as you are a “covered person.”
Is my rent still due?
Yes, your rent is still due, and your landlord can charge you late fees if you do not pay. Your landlord can sue you to collect a rent debt, or can report it to collections which could affect your credit or ability to get future housing.
Remember, to be a “covered person” you must be able to declare under penalty of perjury that you will attempt to make payments as close to the full amount of your rent as possible given your financial circumstances. Consider repeatedly getting money orders for the amount of rent that you can afford. For example, when you get your unemployment, paycheck, or social security check, think about how much you can put toward rent, even if it is a very small amount. Offer the money orders to your landlord and be sure to get a receipt if they are accepted. If you have the ability to text or email a picture of the money orders to your landlord, do so. If your landlord will not accept partial payment, keep the money orders somewhere safe so you can show a judge that you tried to make payments and that you still have that money available to give your landlord.
What Happens when the Order Expires on December 31, 2020?
If you still have unpaid rent on January 1, 2021, your landlord will be able to evict you for nonpayment of rent. Your landlord can also sue you to collect a rent debt, or can report it to collections which could affect your credit or ability to get future housing.
What if I give my landlord the declaration, but my landlord still files for eviction?
You can apply for free legal services from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at the numbers below. See “What evidence do I need to back up the declaration?” above to start compiling documentation that you might need in court to show that your landlord cannot evict you.
COVID-19 helpline at 1-844-244-7871