Ordinance meant to crack down on ‘Slumlords’ in BR could include other consequences for your home

The East Baton Rouge City-Parish's new ordinance meant to crackdown on 'Slumlords' might have other consequences.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:48 PM CDT

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge City-Parish’s new ordinance meant to crack down on ‘Slumlords’ might have other consequences. Like your neighbor possibly turning you in, over the condition of your home.

Now that it’s in effect, the calls to that ‘311′ number have apparently skyrocketed.

The new ordinance was supposed to give people a way, to help force landlords to keep their properties livable. But has it sort of turned into an HOA governed by the City-Parish?

RELATED: City-Parish officials looking to crackdown on ‘slumlords’ with new enforcement mechanism in BR

Many people probably love the home they live in, but what about the eye-sore next door.

“When we start showing pride in our community, it has a residual effect. When one neighbor takes care of their yard, it affects everybody else. When you take care of your home, it affects everybody else,” said Councilman Darryl Hurst, District 5.

Now there’s a way to call and complain about home issues in your neighborhood. What started out as a ‘Slumlord’ ordinance by the Metro Council, has now transformed into maintenance standards across Baton Rouge.

“Now this ordinance isn’t geared specifically towards landlord-tenant relations. It’s a generic property maintenance code that applies to all structures within the parish. But it certainly is something tenants can call if they’re having issues, and we can look into those issues,” said Blake Steiner, EBR Chief Building Official with the Department of Development.

“Any home in any neighborhood across the parish that’s governed by the Department of Development has to maintain their home at the standard to which it was built,” said Councilman Hurst.

Things like holes in your roof or windows, or sewage coming onto your property caused by your neighbor, can now be reported to the City-Parish through that 311 number.

“We’ve never had a mechanism kind of in between, that would allow us to have the homes fixed, and force them to be repaired to a certain standard and now we do. So, we can prevent blight from happening by enforcing a maintenance code,” said Councilman Hurst.

But that 311 request for service number has been a pain to actually get through to someone in the past.

In fact, officials with the City-Parish say they were facing a huge backlog of 3500 complaints back in October of last year.

But now, they are apparently all caught up.

“Now, 311 complaints are being investigated almost in real time, within 7 business days,” said Steiner.

If you’re a tenant or a homeowner and you call that 311 number, and City-Parish officials eventually come out to inspect your issue and find your complaint to be valid, the folks responsible could be fined up to $500 bucks and have to take it up in court.

“The Administrative Court, which manages blight, condemnations, and other issues that are similar,” said Councilman Hurst.

Officials are hopeful this will help beautify the city, instead of just a complete condemnation of a structure.

“And so, our goal is just to say, hey we’re not trying to hurt your business, we want to have a great city where we can live, work and play in. And this maintenance code change is going to help us do that,” said Councilman Hurst.

People are able to call that 311 number http://311.brla.gov/ to request services at any time of the day, and it should be answered by the Call Center.

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