On November 3, the New Orleans City Council passed—with significant amendments—the Healthy Homes Ordinance. The ordinance expands protections for tenants and finally implements a set of standards for liveable rental units that landlords are required to follow to continue renting out their properties, including being adequately leak-proof, mold and pest-free, and capable of keeping bedrooms above 68 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and below 80 degrees in summer, with working plumbing and electricity. The ordinance also creates anti-eviction protections for tenants who report unsafe or substandard conditions to keep landlords from terminating their lease or raising rent as punishment. However, while the original ordinance imposed periodic inspections (every three years), the revised version removed this crucial oversight. The Council also voted to create an anti-displacement fund to help tenants relocate if their landlord loses their certificate of compliance and can no longer rent out the unit.

A client of mine had a maintenance worker come to her apartment and he painted over the mold on her bathroom ceiling. I think that something similar is happening now with this amendment. We have tenants that are subjected to inhumane living conditions and the ordinance, as amended, is just painting over that glaring problem.11. DeVonn J.

The proposed ordinance contains an important form of protection for tenants in the form of a rebuttable presumption of retaliation. This will allow us, as attorneys, to defend retaliatory evictions in court where previously there was no recourse. [However, the amendments] place the burden on the tenants to call in complaints. The protection will not help our clients who are not in “perfect standing” with their landlords. Without affirmative inspections there is nothing to prevent another disaster like Oakmont apartments.22. Hannah A. (Southeast Louisiana Legal Services)

I can’t imagine having to put in a card opposing a Healthy Homes Ordinance, but we find this [ordinance] has been essentially gutted. We were in support of the original version of this bill. People died in Hurricane Ida. People passed out in this record heat. We are not gonna sit here and say this is good enough when it’s not. There was an opportunity here to send a message to landlords that this is necessary for them to be productive members of the community. This isn’t good enough.33. Andreanecia M. (Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance)

Knowing that our elected officials could have done more is beyond disappointing, it’s disgusting. It’s as disgusting as the living conditions I was subjected to including rats, termites swarming, and losing all my belongings to bedbugs. The council should be doing everything in their power to ensure safe and healthy living conditions for vulnerable renters with no protections. Otherwise you are perpetuating the stereotype that deplorable living conditions are the tenants’ fault.44. Leah L.

When there’s not routine inspections, it makes it hard for tenants to feel confident making complaints. We will always pursue the most comprehensive reforms our city can have. The anti-retaliation piece being kept in is very important, but we would like to make routine inspections a part of this ordinance, and we will be back in the future to bring this back up.55. Yasin S. (Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, Renters’ Rights Assembly)

I’m only 22 and I’ve already faced the lack of protection that the city has for its renters. It is an embarrassment to see how this city treats its renters. These are basic needs that should be met. I and all renters deserve to come home to a home with working plumbing and hot water in the winter. Renters are a majority of this city and it is not fair that we are seen as a percentage and not as real people.66. Kim D.

To follow up on this issue, you can email your City councilmembers or the mayor’s office. To submit a public comment, follow instructions at Interested in reading all comments after a meeting? You can email your councilmember or file a public records request.

illustration by Sadie Wiese

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