If New Orleans City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell (D) gets her way, the city of New Orleans will mandate all rental properties to register with the city.
The Proponent: Latoya Cantrell is the councilwoman behind this rental registry idea, which is most likely modeled after counties in Maryland and California. Cantrell, since being elected to the New Orleans City Council, has become synonymous with city-wide regulation, or what opponents would call ‘overreach.’ Cantrell was behind the smoking ban which was recently approved by the City Council, making it illegal to smoke in any public area, like a bar or business. Now, Cantrell is eyeing this rental property regulation and in the future, we can expect a regulatory sound ordinance.
The Proposal: The creation of a publicly-accessible rental database that would list rental houses in the city based on their landlord’s name, the rental property’s address and recent complaints about the property. Additionally, Cantrell is proposing that rental properties adhere to an inspection every three years.
The Intent: Cantrell is pitching this rental registry proposal as one that would entirely clean up the city and rid areas of ‘slumlord’ landlords who contribute to tenants living in substandard housing across the city.
Will It Work?: On paper, this proposal seems like a good idea and has good intentions. Slumlords being forced out of New Orleans? Who could argue with that. However, the rental registry, like all regulations, will have serious implications on law-abiding property owners and tenants.
First, how will the city even make sure that all rental units in the city are registered with the city? This is a very large loophole in Cantrell’s proposal. The slumlords the councilwoman is looking to eliminate could simply get around the ordinance by not registering their property.
Also, this could create havoc and unnecessary burdens on law-abiding rental property owners. Looking at other areas across the country that have put this idea into effect, the paperwork for rental property owners seems to be extensive.
In Baltimore County, Maryland, the system comes along with registration fees from $40-$50, an application process and fines for not registering property with the county.
Furthermore, registration fees, fines and all the other costs that will come along with this proposal will not merely be taken on by the landlord, but simply passed down to renters.
Meaning, the price of rent in the city will go up and more and more current residents could be priced out of living in the city, which would have a trickle-down affect for New Orleans’ economy.
Currently, it is unclear about the standards in which rental properties will be evaluated from, though the plan will be administered by the city’s Code Enforcement Department.
Though, according to Cantrell, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Quality Standards will guide the standards for evaluating rental properties.