Real Estate Articles

New Orleans Rental Registry Explained
By: David Birdsong

NEW ORLEANS RENTAL REGISTRY

Members of the New Orleans City Council have proposed a new ordinance which would require the registry and inspection of all rental property in New Orleans.   A sub-committee of the City Council held a hearing Jan. 18, 2017, during which proponents and opponents of the ordinance had an opportunity to speak.   The sub-committee recommended the ordinance be passed to the full City Council to be voted on.   Several Councilpersons suggested there may be some needed changes to the ordinance before it is passed.   The key provisions of the ordinance are:

Registration   All rental property would have to be registered with the exception of:

  • Rental Housing Units in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, Short Term Rentals, or RV parks; (2) Rental Housing Units in any state licensed hospital, hospice, community- care facility, intermediate-care facility, or nursing home; (3) Rental Housing Units owned, managed, or operated by an educational or medical institution, or by a third party for any of the above institutions, when units are used for the sole use of employees, students, patients or others directly related to the institution; (4) An individual housing unit that is owner-occupied.

Disclosure The following information would be disclosed in the registration:

(1) The address(es) for each Rental Housing Unit, which shall include the street name, number(s), unit numbers, and zip code, including the number of units and bedrooms therein, located on the residential property. Each individual Rental Housing Unit shall be registered separately, but if an owner owns more than one Rental Housing Unit on a single lot of record, the owner may submit one registration application for all units owned thereon.

(2) The name, business address, personal address, telephone number and e-mail address of the owner(s). The address(es) required shall not be a public or private post office box or similar address.

  1. If the property is owned by multiple natural persons, then the required information shall be that of one person who has legal authority to manage the property.
  2. If the property is owned by a juridical entity, then the required information shall be that of a registered agent or other duly authorized legal representative who has authority to act on behalf of the entity.

(3) The name, address, email address and telephone number of the person the tenant is to contact (Tenant Contact) when requesting repairs to their Rental Housing Unit, if different than the owner. The required Tenant Contact’s address shall not be a public or private post office box or similar address.

This information shall be entered into the publicly accessible database.

Inspection   All properties must pass an initial inspection.   Properties subject to Section 8 inspections would be exempt from this.   Re-inspections will be required as follows:

(a) Properties that passed initial inspection, three years from the anniversary of the initial inspection; (b) Properties that failed the initial inspection, two years from the anniversary of the initial inspection; (c) Properties that fail two consecutive inspections, every 6 months for the first year and annually for the following three years from the anniversary of the date of the first passed inspection

Rental Standards The following should be the inspections standards:

  1. All Residential Rental Units shall have an operable fire and smoke detection system and alarm.
  2. All plumbing fixtures shall be properly connected to the public sewer system or to an approved private system if the public system is not available.
  3. Every Residential Rental Unit shall contain a bathtub or shower, lavatory, a flush- type water closet and a kitchen sink, which shall be maintained in a sanitary and good working condition.
  4. All kitchen sinks, lavatories, bathtubs and showers shall be supplied with hot and cold running water. 5. Water heating facilities shall be properly installed and maintained, and capable of providing an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every required sink, lavatory, bathtub, and shower at a minimum temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Every Residential Rental Unit shall be provided with heating facilities reasonably capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in all habitable rooms, bathrooms and toilet rooms. Cooking appliances shall not be used to provide space heating to meet the requirements of this section.
  6. A Residential Rental Unit shall be provided with a properly installed and maintained electrical system, which shall be in a safe working condition and capable of performing its intended function.
  7. All mechanical appliances, fireplaces, solid-fuel-burning appliances and cooking appliances shall be properly installed and maintained in a safe working condition, and shall be capable of performing the intended function.
  8. Roofs, windows, and exterior doors must be adequate to prevent dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior portions of the Residential Rental Unit. No evidence of mold shall be present. The roof and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects that admit rain.
  9. All interior surfaces shall be maintained in a good, clean and sanitary condition. Significant cracking, decaying or other defective surface conditions shall be corrected. Holes in interior walls and floors shall be sealed as necessary.
  10. The Residential Rental Unit and its exterior property shall be kept free from rodent harborage and infestation.

Failure to comply with the ordinance would subject the property owner to fines as can presently be levied by the City other housing issues.

Fees:     

-Initial Rental Registration Fee $60.00

-Inspection Fee, per unit $30.00 – 10 + units 293 $40.00 – 5-9 units 294 $50.00 – 1-4 units

-Re-inspection Fee $25.00 (Including any additional inspection(s))

-Annual Renewal Registration Fee $40.00

-Failure to Attend Scheduled Inspection Fee $15.00

-Registration Reinstatement Fee $50.00

There are several major issues with the ordinance.

First, It probably won’t accomplish everything the City desires.   While there are bad landlords most landlords properly maintain their properties and they are the ones who would be punished by this ordinance. The bad landlords simply won’t register, and then they would be violators under the ordinance as they are currently violators under the already existing ordinances which are not enforced for various reasons. That won’t change.

Second, in addition to the fees, which may be considered minimal, there will also be compliance costs. The time it will take the landlord to fill out the forms, meet the inspectors at all of the properties, and if the inspector doesn’t pass the properties, the time to challenge the inspection and attend re-inspections. This will be a greater burden on owners of single family rentals than multi-family units.

Third, the ordinance raises serious privacy issues regarding U.S. Constitutional 4th Amendment issues but even more, disclosure of private information on a public data base.   An apartment complex owner may be able to list a management company as the point of contact, but an individual who owns 2 or 3 or 4 or even just 1 rental and manages them themselves, will have to disclose not just their email and phone numbers but their private addresses.

Fourth, while the fees and the inspection standards may be minimal at this time once the ordinance is on the books, it will be much easier for the City to increase the fees and the inspection standards in the future.   Things that have been done in other jurisdictions to raise revenue and require landlords to meet housing criteria established by the City.

These are only some of the key provisions of the ordinance and a copy of the entire ordinance is available on the NOREIA Web site along with the contact information for the New Orleans City Council members.  

Rental Registry Documents

About Author

David Birdsong
Attorney
Gulf South Title Corp.
website:www.gulfsouthtitlecorp.com
Email: david@gulfsouthtitlecorp.com 
Phone: 504-780-9202
Fax: 504-780-9291

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