New Orleans Property Owners: City Stepping Up Activity and Fines Under New Code Enforcement Ordinance

As recently reported in the Uptown Messenger, New Orleans officials have levied a whopping $30,000 in fines against an Uptown property owner and landlord for code violations at 18 rental properties. This should be a wake-up call for property owners throughout New Orleans who may soon face their own legal battles if they don’t adequately maintain their occupied properties.
In 2013, the City Council passed sweeping code enforcement changes that placed stricter property maintenance standards on buildings and allowed the city to levy significant fines on owners who fail to comply with the new rules. Clearly, the city has decided to exercise these powers.
While the city’s focus in the aftermath of Katrina was addressing problems with vacant buildings in efforts to reduce blight, the code revisions and subsequent enforcement efforts are focusing on occupied but inadequately maintained residential and commercial properties. The revisions impose broad requirements related to exterior and interior maintenance, safety and sanitation.
The rules give code inspectors the go-ahead to be on the lookout for structures with rodent infestations, tall grass, rotting wood and defective plumbing. Efficiency rental units that don’t include cooking appliances and refrigerators, bathroom floors that aren’t made of a “smooth, hard, nonabsorbent surface” and properties with “substantial” peeling paint and cracks can also draw citations.
Additionally, the stakes for property owners are now significantly higher. Under the old code, the fines for all violations were capped at $500 per day.  Now, the city can fine the property owner $500 per day for each individual violation until it is remedied.
With the new requirements, increased powers now given to city inspectors, and substantially increased fines, New Orleans property owners need to be aware of the new standards and remain vigilant in the maintenance of their properties.  If the city comes calling and begins enforcement proceedings, the hearing process can be swift and action can be taken within a matter of days.
If you have questions about New Orleans code enforcement, have been cited for violations, or are facing the prospect of a hearing, the experienced New Orleans code enforcement defense lawyers of Galante & Bivalacqua stand ready to assist you.
This article has been prepared by Galante & Bivalacqua for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.