Healthy Homes Law Protects Renters in New Orleans

Posted on: June 26, 2023
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Do you rent a house or apartment in New Orleans? The City of New Orleans’ new Healthy Homes law will help ensure your unit is fit to live in.

What does the new Healthy Homes Law say?

Starting on July 1, 2023, renters can ask for repairs without worrying that their landlords will get back at them, thanks to the new Healthy Homes Law. The New Orleans City Council passed the law in November 2022.

The law makes landlords take steps to make their rental properties safe and healthy, starting January 1, 2024. Landlords who own big apartment complexes are the first to register their properties with the city. If they don't make the needed repairs, they might not be able to rent their properties anymore.

How will the new Healthy Homes law keep my landlord from getting back at me if I ask for repairs or report bad conditions?

Starting July 1, 2023, your landlord can’t get back at you for doing any of these things:

  1. You tell your landlord something in your unit does not meet the current health and safety rules (the Minimum Property Maintenance Code).
  2. You ask your landlord to fix something in the current health and safety rules.
  3. You report problems with your unit to the City of New Orleans (like Code Enforcement), the public, or the media. The current health and safety rules must cover the things you report.
  4. You speak at a hearing or in court about problems covered by the current health and safety rules.

Here are two examples of how the new law may apply to real-life problems with your landlord.

Example 1:

You ask for repairs or report a problem, and within six (6) months, the landlord tries to raise your rent or take away services. The Healthy Homes law says this is illegal retaliation. There are some key exceptions.

Your landlord’s actions would not be illegal if one of these things is true:

  1. The lease says the landlord can raise rent or fees because of higher utility bills, taxes, or insurance.
  2. The landlord is charging more rent or getting rid of some services for everyone in the building.
  3. The landlord charges more under approved rent changes by a government program like Section 8.

How to use the Healthy Homes law to protect yourself: If the landlord does not follow the Healthy Homes law, you might need to go to court to ask a Judge to rule that the rent increase or other things the landlord did are illegal.

Example 2:

You ask for repairs or report a problem, and within six (6) months, the landlord tries to evict you or refuse to renew your lease. The Healthy Homes law says this is illegal retaliation. There are some key exceptions.

Your landlord’s actions would not be illegal if one of these things is true:

  1. You are behind on rent.
  2. You, your family, or your guest damages the unit on purpose or threatens the safety of others.
  3. You violated the lease agreement in any other way.

Under the Healthy Homes law, it is not a violation of your lease to stay in your apartment past the date your landlord has asked you to leave after giving you a notice of nonrenewal. 

How to use the Healthy Homes law to protect yourself: You can use Healthy Homes to defend yourself in eviction court. That does not mean a judge will do as you ask. If you are facing eviction, try to get legal help.

All renters in New Orleans have a right to an attorney in eviction court. If you get an eviction notice, try to find legal help right away. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) gives free legal assistance to people who qualify. Reach SLLS at 1340 Poydras St., Suite 600, (504) 529-1000 x.223.

The Healthy Homes law only protects a renter who can prove they told the landlord about the problems in the unit. Always tell the landlord about problems in writing, like email or text message, and keep copies for your records. 

What happens in 2024?

In January 2024, landlords must begin registering their units with the City of New Orleans. First, larger apartment complexes will have to register. Later, smaller properties will have to register. The landlord does not pay to do this – it is free.

Landlords listing their rentals must swear that the properties are fit to live in under the City’s rules. Landlords also swear this knowing that it is a crime to lie.

There is a new list of things a landlord must do to ensure the rental is safe and in good shape called the Minimum Rental Standards.

What will the Minimum Rental Standards require starting in 2024?

In 2024 rental units in New Orleans must have everything listed here:

  • Working fire and smoke detectors.
  • At least one bathtub or shower, toilet, and kitchen sink. These things must be clean and in good working order.
  • Hot and cold running water.
  • Working water heater that can heat enough water to 110 degrees.
  • Heaters that can reach at least 68 degrees in every room.
  • Air conditioning that can cool every bedroom down to at least 80 degrees. (This rule about minimum A/C is new for 2024!)
  • Safe working electrical wiring and outlets.
  • Safe working appliances (if the landlord supplies them).
  • The roof, windows, and doors must keep dampness out of the unit.
  • A unit that has no signs of mold inside.
  • Walls, floors, or interior surfaces, without major cracks, holes, or decay.
  • No rodents (like rats and mice).

What rental property standards are in place now, before 2024?

The New Orleans Minimum Property Maintenance Code protects you now. It lists what landlords must do to keep their rentals in shape. These rules will still apply on top of the new rules for 2024.

You can read more here: New Orleans Municipal Code (Article IV, Sections. 26-156 through 26-230).

How will the City of New Orleans enforce the new Healthy Homes law?

The City plans to hire more people to inspect rentals and respond to complaints to enforce Healthy Homes.

What happens if a rental unit fails inspection under the new 2024 rules?

The City can act against a landlord if a unit does not meet the new Minimum Rental Standards in 2024.

First, the City might allow the landlord to fix the problem. If the landlord does not fix the problem, the City will hold a hearing.

The Hearing Officer may make the landlord pay a fine or take other action against a landlord with repair issues or problems that do not meet the new rules.

The City can also take away the landlord’s right to rent the apartment if the unit is unsafe and the landlord will not fix it.

Can a tenant be kicked out if a rental unit fails inspection under the new 2024 rules?

The Healthy Homes law says you will get a written notice if the landlord loses their right to rent your apartment. You will have a chance to go to a hearing before being asked to move. You will get at least 60 days to move. There is an exception for emergencies.

A renter who has to move would also be eligible for assistance from the Anti-Displacement Fund once money is in that fund.

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