Affordable Housing May Cease To Exist In New Orleans As Rents Soar To Fund Misguided Legislation AKA Rental Registry

Armed with misinformation, skewed data and a disregard for the facts, some members of the New Orleans City Council are attempting to resurrect what can only be described as an ignominious debacle aka the Rental Registry (RR). This flawed proposal is at best an embarrassment and disgrace to common sense and the poster child for inept government at its worst. Proponents for the RR are deliberately ignoring existing laws to propose a duplicate layer of municipal codes and ordinances that will drive renters from New Orleans as rents soar to meet the ever increasing fees and compliance cost of this bureaucratic hijacking of renter’s hard-earned dollars.

This misguided idea was conceived in anger, ignorance and contempt by a small group of renters and several 501(c)(3)’s seeking self-validation, without which the grant money dries up. Rental Registry proponents are exploiting a few problems affecting a small percentage of renters to fabricate a nonexistent crisis that reeks of demagoguery and is not supported by factual data. The Rental Registry proposition is being publicized as the process to go after “bad landlords,” but in reality is a multi-million dollar tax proposal that will siphon millions of dollars in fees from the pockets of hardworking renters and taxpayers. May I remind everyone that the process to address any building code violation is already in place and capable of addressing any code violations reported.

Code Enforcement was formed by City Ordinance in 1956 as a division within the Safety and Permits Department that ensured occupied houses met habitability standards. (source)

Allegations that code enforcement routinely ignores renter’s complaints of code violations could be part of the problem. If this is true, corrective action is needed to address their willful neglect and dereliction of duty. This would resolve the problem and put an inspector on task to investigate reported violations. Creating duplicate laws and a multi-million dollar bureaucracy to address renter’s maintenance request is insane. However, the RR is really not about helping renters facilitate a repair, but a nefarious taxing scheme to hoodwink renters into paying a multi-million dollar tax. The proposal is deceptive in nature, intrusive in practice and nothing more than a bureaucratic shakedown.

The formula for pulling-off this immoral money grab is to solicit emotional testimony from a small group of angry renters and portray them as victims of the evil landlords that need government intervention to save them. Add in a few 501(c)(3)’s to argue false data and spread inaccurate facts and you have one gigantic con job. The highly coveted reward is millions of dollars for bureaucrats and their cronies along with increased grant dollars for the 501(c)(3)’s to continue their war against the evil landlords which is code for all landlords. The fallout will be soaring rents and the death of affordable housing in New Orleans. The misguided RR proposal has the potential to grow north of $10 million dollars in just a few years.

As one might imagine, some council members have never seen a tax they didn’t love and the RR is promising to be an unprecedented immoral cash-cow that will surely destroy affordable housing. It proposes a so-called solution to a nonexistent crisis based on false data. Moreover, a handful of angry people harboring unhealthy sentiment should not be the basis for adopting broad and sweeping policies or the basis for a multi-million dollar tax on renters. Renters may soon face the dilemma of paying higher rents to support the RR taxes and compliance cost and have fewer dollars for food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, childcare and other necessities of life.

The illogical concept of a RR is analogous to the fellow that says, “let’s burn down the house to kill the rat.” Yes, you may kill the rat, but at the costly destruction of your home. Such irrational thinking is driving the RR.

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, we heard testimony in the council chambers from a few renters about property owners that allegedly either failed or were slow to make needed repairs on their rental units (not a systemic problem). Most speakers spoke of alleged past experiences from many years ago and did not share current unresolved rental problems. In an overtly desperate effort to pander dull and naive minds, one council person blamed the city’s horrific crime rate on bad landlords. These types of irresponsible comments are delusional at best. It appears that RR proponents will say just about anything to manipulate public sentiment and institute this abusive tax and spend monster. 

In a perfect world nothing would ever malfunction or break. However, in the rental business and in our private residences things do wear out and break. When this happens, property owners must make the necessary repairs in a reasonable amount of time, but do they? Well, when the American Home Survey (AHS) report was published, New Orleans renters ranked their landlords with a high 93.51% satisfaction rating, which beat the national average. More on this in a minute.

Data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS 70 cities and metropolitan areas survey and U. S. Census Bureau ranked New Orleans as the 3rd best place for renters to live—the facts don’t lie friends. In cities where RR’s were implemented (see the red bars on the chart) rents skyrocketed while New Orleans experienced only a small increase or 1.86% per year from 2009 – 2014 (click chart for support data). It is clear that RR’s are responsible for rising rental rates wherever they exist.

Here Are 3 Reason Why The Rental Registry Is Not Needed:

  1. It is irresponsible to ignore existing Municipal Codes that are exhaustive and provide a detailed process for resolving building code violations. No new codes are needed. What is needed is for code enforcement to do the job they are charged with performing under the existing ordinances. The process is outlined in Chapter 26 – Article IV – Division 3 – Sections 26: 151–155 of the New Orleans Code Of Ordinances. Code Enforcement officials are duty bound to respond and investigate all complaints of code violations without exception.
  2. The data from AHS and NAR is overwhelmingly supportive of a healthy tenant landlord relationship in the New Orleans & metro area with tenants giving landlords a high 93.51% satisfaction rating. You simply do not create a multi-million dollar bureaucracy to address the 6.5% that were less satisfied. Existing codes can easily address these issues as they arise.
  3. There is no crisis and there is no data to suggest a crisis exist. One of the most troubling statements that we heard Rental Registry proponents quoting over and over and again on May 11, 2016 is sourced from the distorted and inaccurate information quoted in the Fair Housing report titled For Rent: Unsafe Over Priced Home For The Holidays.
    1. In the report the writer states: “As many as 49,000, roughly 78% of rental units in New Orleans needed major repairs at some point in the previous year.”
      1. FALSE, completely false. The Fair Housing Report misinterprets critical AHS data and others continue to parrot its erroneous information. Actually, out of 159,100 tri-city renters, 124,800 EXPRESSED AN OPINION as to their SATISFACTION with the landlord’s response time and quality of service. The report comprises 3 cities, New Orleans, Jefferson and Kenner. The Fair Housing folks estimated a third or about 49,000 as representative of New Orleans. That being said, the AHS question does not ask or imply that a major repair was needed in the past 12 months as alleged by the Fair Housing report, nor does it suggest that 78% or 80% of New Orleans rental housing are being neglected and in need of major repairs. The estimated 49,000 respondents simply shared their satisfaction rating on their landlord’s performance during their entire rental experience which could be any number of years. To suggest that 79% or 80% of New Orleans rental homes were in need of a major repair or that the data supports such a finding demonstrates one’s irresponsible lack of factual knowledge. Astonishingly and in complete contradiction to RR propaganda, renters responding to survey question about satisfaction overwhelmingly ranked New Orleans landlords with a 93.51% overall satisfaction rating which is higher than the national average. Read the complete article here and read Exhibit A AHS (lines 12-16). Yes, the data is complex, but understandable if you take the time to study it. Moreover, the AHS question does not define, suggest or quantify what is meant by a “major repair.” Nevertheless, New Orleans landlords received a 93.51% passing score.

Sources close to the RR issue have indicated that proponents are considering proposing a scaled down or possibly voluntary RR proposal with designs on masking its true intention and making it a palatable artifice. The goal is to dupe the unsuspecting and naive public by making the proposal appear financially harmless to renters and landlords at first and a good program for all involved—do not be deceived. Once the die is cast, RR proponents will increasingly unveil the outrageous fee based taxing mechanism that will drive rents through the roof. The availability of affordable housing will sharply decline as rents soar to keep pace with the millions of dollars in new application fees, inspection fees, reinspection fees, fines, penalties, administrative expenses, human resource expense and an endless array of legal expenses. None of this is necessary—none. The process is already in place for handling any code violations as stated and linked above.

Even more disturbing is the next phase of the RR propagandist agenda aimed at forcing all private landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers and renters or face charges of discrimination. In the city of Seattle, Redmond, unincorporated King County and Bellevue it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against someone because of their status as a Section 8 voucher holder. Landlords in these areas cannot legally refuse to rent to someone just because they use a Section 8 voucher to pay their rent. Check out Santa Monica’s new law.

Landlord discrimination against Section 8 vouchers outlawed… No more “No Section 8″ on rental listings in Santa Monica.

If you are opposed to forced section 8 renters you are really going to hate the soon coming “rent control laws” that dictate how much you can ask for your rental. These rent control laws will be touted as necessary laws to control the soaring rents. But the RR will not be considered the culprit for soaring rents, it will be laid at the feet of the “evil landlords” trying to price out section 8 renters, which is a discriminatory action subject to prosecution.

RR propagandist employ divisive tactics to characterize the tenant landlord relationship as adversarial and abusive by calling the property owners bad landlords, slumlords or people who don’t play by the rules. RR propagandist use old-school socialist-style strategies to instigate class hatred between landlords and tenants while presenting themselves as the only voice of reason. They alone have the answers to this non-existent theatrical crisis created in the minds of socialist ideologues. From backstage to center stage they appear, well rehearsed and smartly scripted to rescue renters from the grasp of evil fat-cats known as landlords. This scenario is unfolding before our very eyes and this pernicious ideology will triumph over sound reasoning if we remain uninformed and silent.

New Orleans City Council is trying to enact laws that violate the U. S. Constitution and Louisiana’s Constitution; is this legal?

While it is ill-advised and illegal, council members can legislate just about anything they want to, legal or illegal. However, RR opponents will be forced to petition a Federal Judge to block the unconstitutional law which will eventually be nullified and rescinded. New Orleanians opposing the illegal RR will certainly take note of each council member’s position and mark those who have no respect for our constitutional rights.

In Garland, Texas the RR was found to be an illegal invasion of citizen’s homes and a violation of the 4th Amendment. Here’s what happened:

In Garland, Texas tenants and landlords simply refused to comply with the RR process and filed suit against the city. After 7 trips to the courtroom the judge fined the city of Garland $100,000 for the defendants legal fees and issued a scathing rebuke for the unenforceable law.

In Columbus, OhioJames Ronald Baker v. City of Portsmouth, the Court ruled the City of Portsmouth’s occupational licensing requirements imposed upon landlords rental property inspections and licensing fees (RR) violates the 4th Amendment. In short, the proposed Rental Registry inspections are illegal because there is no “probable cause” to enter our homes. 

Both the United States and Ohio Supreme Court have invalidated warrantless inspections of rental property, and repeatedly held that warrantless administrative inspections of business property are generally invalid, absent exigent circumstances.

The court ruled in favor of the landlords ordering the city to refund the illegal inspection fees collected for the unlawful inspection. Judge Susan Dlott, of the Western Division of the Southern District of Ohio, stated:

The inspections are also significantly intrusive. As the Supreme Court has noted, the ‘physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.

There are 9 other detailed blogs on this site explaining everything you need to know about the proposed RR. I urge you to take some time to read each of them over the next few days and develop a working knowledge of all the facts. 

Contacts for New Orleans City Council members and staff. Your voice matters!

City Council, STAY OUT of Private Residences!

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  1. John says:

    Your information is spot on my friend! Great piece!


  2. Kurt B says:

    Just stumbled upon this blog. You are a smart person. Great article!!


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