With a Land Use Initiative and Advocacy Everywhere, New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors® Minimize Impact of New Rental Regulations

With a Land Use Initiative and Advocacy Everywhere, New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors® Minimize Impact of New Rental Regulations

March 2023

Faced with the prospect of two restrictive new rental regulations, the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® (NOMAR) first tried to reason with the City Council.  When that failed, they turned to the REALTOR® Party for assistance: a Land Use Initiative analysis and a Call For Action convinced the lawmakers, through legal reasoning and powerful public persuasion, to pass a mitigated version of the regulations that the REALTORS® found acceptable.

Kelli Walker Starrett, NOMAR’s CEO, explains that the association has been opposing rent registration ordinances for years.  In 2016, they challenged a similar proposal by asking questions raised by a REALTOR® Party Land Use Initiative, which the Council couldn’t answer – so the ordinance was shelved.  When the issue resurfaced in 2022, a tenant advocacy group whose tactics rely on sensationalized media attention had pushed the Council to instate two fee-based ordinances, a rental registration and a mandatory inspection ordinance called ‘Healthy Homes.’  Says Starrett, “They painted the New Orleans rental industry as being in the midst of an epidemic of squalor, but that’s just not the reality.  Still, the Council largely bought into it, some of them only because they didn’t want to be on the record opposing rental improvement; meanwhile, our new Mayor had been the Councilmember who’d pressed for rental ordinances all those years ago.  The fact is,” she continues, “regulations like these have been imposed in cities across the country, and we have yet to see positive results from them anywhere.”

NOMAR tapped into the Land Use Initiative resource offered by the REALTOR® Party, and the analysis that came back was plenty strong, referring to various aspects of the draft ordinance as “arbitrary,” “nonsensical,” and possibly “vulnerable to challenge under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”  Armed with this report, the REALTORS® used Advocacy Everywhere to put out both a member- and public-facing Call For Action, explaining that the proposed regulations would exacerbate the City’s affordable housing shortage and would not have the desired outcome of holding slumlords accountable.  In an amusing twist, reports Starrett, “A City Councilmember who couldn’t openly oppose the rental regulations, but who’d seen a CFA in action before, called and advised us to launch one, even knowing the consequences would undoubtedly affect the Council, himself included.  The Councilmember stated, ‘I know you have the tools in your toolbelt; use them!’  And we did!”  The membership’s response was strong and swift.

In the meantime, Starrett harnessed the expertise of the many NOMAR members involved in the rental market, convening several ‘stakeholder groups’ of seasoned property managers who helped craft compromises to minimize the effects of the proposed requirements.  At the end of the day, the City Council adopted a no-cost registration and inspections only when a property is reported as having a suspected violation.  “Our CFA had enough of an impact that the Council heavily watered down the original ordinance so that it really isn’t effective at all and will be a very minimal burden on property owners,” says Starrett.  “We’re grateful for the support from the REALTOR® Party that helped us achieve this much.”

To learn more about how the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® is protecting renters and property owners alike from excessive regulation, contact CEO Kelli Walker Starrett at kelli@nomar.org or 504.274.0701.

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