There Are Thousands More Bad Tenants Than Bad Landlords
In March 2015 I published an article titled The Tenant-Landlord Relationship in which we discussed three general categories of tenants: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Recently I was reminded of this article when I saw a former tenant, of roughly 8 years earlier, testifying before New Orleans City Council Members about their horrible landlord and rental experience they were enduring. The landlord was characterized as a really bad person, and perhaps he was. But then it came to mind that this witness, a former tenant, was also a really bad tenant, i.e., constantly late with the rent, failed to respond to written notices, trashed the apartment, unauthorized pet, no pet deposit, carpet ruined by pet urine, two eviction filings, failed to give proper notice, broke the lease, and left an outstanding balance of more than $1,100. Then to my amazement, I received a demand letter from an attorney who threatened to file suit if the tenant’s deposit was not refunded. Fortunately, when the attorney saw the pictures, the condition of the unit and the documentation, it became obvious that the tenant was less than honest. Although I never heard from either again, at the time I remember being relieved that the entire ordeal was limited to roughly a $3,000 loss of rent, administrative cost, marketing expense, and make ready cost.
RR advocates and their legislation only identifies problem landlords, not bad tenants. Therefore, the proposed RR omits any regulations, fees, fines, rules or instruction regarding “bad tenants” that have been granted occupancy in a rental property valued between $300,000 to $10 million. Friends, there is something so insidious about the proposed RR that it is difficult to understand how any New Orleans Council Member that takes the time to truly reflect and evaluate it, could ever support such bad legislation.
It is estimated that in 2014 New Orleans landlords lost $8.9 million in revenue due to bad tenants. These estimates are as follows:
In 2014 landlords were forced to file 4,516iv eviction proceedings at an estimated loss of $3.6 million in annual rental income, $850 thousand in court filing fees and about $4.5 million in repairs, marketing and make ready expenses totaling roughly $8.9 million in loss revenue and expenses. Using HANO’s estimate of 86,300v rentals in Orleans, about 5.2% of the renters received eviction notices in 2014. If you assume about ½ of the 4,516 had a roommate, spouse, child or other person living with them, the number increases to 6,774 renters. Of the 5.2% evicted, we suppose it would be difficult to locate a few that had a kind word to say about their former landlord. (The Tenant-Landlord Relationship)
One dangerous fact that is never acknowledged by RR advocates is that there are thousands more bad tenants than there are bad landlords. Stiffing the landlord and trashing the unit is more common than some suppose. The proposed RR was conceived under the false premise that tenants are the inherent victims of a ruling class of ruthless landlords that must be held accountable for their atrocities. There are no built-in checks and balances for dealing with bad tenants, and why is that? Because the RR functions under the delusional pretext that there is no such thing as a bad tenant, only bad landlords. The entire propaganda campaign, the misinformation and false narrative put forth by the angry advocates served to guide and frame the proposed language of the RR. Its intention, from inception, was not to regulate an industry, but punish the slightest infraction of any landlord while completely ignoring and exonerating the tenant of any responsibility or accountability whatsoever. One cannot read either of the proposed RR documents (the first, Feb. 2015, or the second, January 2017) and conclude otherwise.
There is no level playing field in this bogus RR proposal that is now being proposed as the cleverly devised Healthy Homes Ordinance. It’s like sugar-coated poison, palatable at first, but deadly when ingested. It completely ignores all existing codes and ordinances that are abundantly sufficient while concocting a multimillion dollar tax on tenants. It is fueled by class hatred toward landlords while misleading renters into paying higher rents for RR protection. Unfortunately, the outcome of unintended consequences will produce a mass exodus to the suburbs as rents soar through the roof.
There are detailed state and municipal codes that clearly define the entire relationship between tenants and landlords and Louisiana’s Attorney General publishes a free (Handbook) to guide landlords and tenants through the process. The proposed RR fails to offer even lip service for the rights of landlords and contains no provisions for the Louisiana landlord-tenant laws that actually govern the landlord-tenant relationship. It ranks as one of the most egregious, illegal, and unconstitutional documents aimed at punishing landlords, both good and bad, through the creation of fees, fines and associated compliance cost that will exceed $10 million and destroy affordable housing in the city. Do not be deceived by the hollow promises of the RR advocates. Rents will soar beyond one’s imagination. The city treasury will be enriched and affordable housing will disappear.
There are many problems purposely ignored in the RR for which the tenant is responsible, but the landlord will be forced to repair free of charge. Any attempt to seek reimbursement or deduct these charges from the tenant’s deposit will be construed by the RR advocates as retaliation against the tenant and trigger the tenant advocacy groups to file costly and debilitating lawsuits for alleged retaliatory practices. Look for a proliferation of lawsuits by these 501(c)(3) activists law groups (RR supporters) that are salivating at the prospect of representing any tenant’s claim and punishing those bad landlords. This is one of the many hidden reasons these advocacies groups are all too eager to see this one-sided RR enacted. Remember, in their mind, there is no such thing as a bad tenant, only bad landlords. Consider the following examples:
- Bathtubs and showers filled with mold and soap scum, not fit to bathe a dog, will need cleaning and some refinishing. This is caused by a tenant’s failure to perform regular housekeeping as stated in the lease. This will never pass the RR inspection.
- Ovens, cooktops and stove hoods so coated with grease and grime that they are sometimes thrown out due to tenant neglect and abuse.
- The cost for broken windows from domestic violence, kids throwing toys and balls indoors, and tenants that break glass doors and windows when they are locked out will all be absorbed by landlords.
- Carpets so matted and dirty from tenant neglect, stains and animal feces must be removed and replaced, costing thousands of dollars.
- Holes in the walls and doors from fist, feet, elbows, heads and bodies striking the walls must be repaired at the owner’s expense.
The cost of these repairs must be passed on to the tenant in the form of increased rents and deposit deductions. However, if the RR is made law, landlords could be exposed to debilitating lawsuits ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 for tenant harassment and retaliation.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. There are 11 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. Please contact the New Orleans City Council members and staff. Your voice matters!
Please contact the New Orleans City Council members and express your disapproval of the RR. Your voice only matters if you speak up!