STUDENTS/RENTERS | SINGLE FAMILY HOUSING | PROPERTY VALUE
ENFORCEMENT & RESPONSE TO COMPLAINTS | PARKING/TRAFFIC
BLIGHT/TRASH | A-1 ZONING
STUDENTS / RENTERS
What can be done about student parties and related parking problems?
Loud parties are prohibited by the noise ordinance. If a party is ongoing and causing a nuisance, contact the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000. Continue to the section on parking for information on what to do about
parking in the streets and in yards.
Are college students a protected class?
Does property have to be in the name of a student who lives in the house in order for the four unrelated persons to live there, too?
The property must be owned by the student as determined by the title in the student’s name, not just his or her parents’ name, in order to allow more than two unrelated family members to cohabitate.
Can a student-owner lease/rent rooms to three others and still receive homestead exemption?
Yes, as long as the student is also an owner.
In regards to parents buying residences for their child with intention to rent out to others who are unrelated, if parents give a child 1% or 5%, for example, part ownership does that constitute ownership by student-i.e. owners
now live in the residence?
Under the provisions of the Civil Code a co-owner in division has all of the rights incident to ownership.
SINGLE FAMILY HOUSING
How does single family zoning affect my property?
Single family zoning affects property because single family homes that are being improperly used generally generate more traffic on streets and create parking problems. Another major concern is the use of a home in a single family
neighborhood as a party house, which is statistically more likely when the home is in violation of the single family housing ordinance.
When residential single family dwelling violations are shown to exist by Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works and then turned over to the Parish Attorney’s Office, what percent are actually pursued
with legal action and what is the success rate?
All violations referred to the Parish Attorney’s office are pursued with some form of action until resolved. Some are determined to be qualified non-conforming uses on which no action can be taken. A few are determined to be
compliant. The Parish Attorney’s office does not have statistics on single family violations, but according to their records, 95 violation letters have been sent since July 2003 for junk, trash, etc. and abandoned vehicles. Of
those, 45 were cleared upon receipt of the letter, 30 suits were filed, and 20 are still pending. Of the 30 violations for which suits were filed 25 have been cleared, and 5 suits are still pending. The Parish Attorney’s Office is
currently researching the statistics on single family housing violations.
I live next to a duplex with two people in one apartment and one or two in the other. No owner is in residence. It is owned by a realtor. How does this conform to a “non-profit” basis described in single family zoning?
Duplexes are not single family structures. They can only be constructed in multi-family zones. If a duplex is in an A-1 zone, it is probably a non-conforming use and it is unlikely that anything can be done about them. However,
many property owners will try to create garage apartments or other detached structures into rental living space, which is a violation of the single family ordinance.
How can neighborhoods address multiple people (non-family members) living at a single residence in A-1 zoning?
By calling Neal Bezet at the Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works at 389-8680. If a citizen has other types of complaints and is not sure whom to call, Citizens’ Service is designed to take his or her
call and pass the information along to the relevant department. The number for Citizens’ Service is 389-3090.
Can a property that has been out of compliance for many years be “grandfathered” in and considered to be in compliance? Cite a specific statute?
Yes. It is considered to be “legal nonconforming.” See statute LRS 9:5625.
Why are there not consequences to the property owner when issues occur with their tenants and/or property?
The owner and any tenant involved in committing the violation is liable and may be fined for the violation. Maximum punishments for violations of city ordinances are a $500 fine and/or up to six months of jail time at the judge's
If students are living in violation of the “one family” zoning and were not informed of the regulation by the landlord in a lease, who is held responsible? Will the students get evicted? Is this zoning law is appropriate in ALL
areas of EBRP. Are there any plans to re-evaluate what is considered an A-1 zone?
All residential areas are zoned in specific ways. Some are A-1 Single Family zones, others are zoned to accommodate townhouses, and still others apartment complexes. Amendments to the zoning restrictions in the Unified Development
Code must be approved by the Metro Council after a recommendation by the Planning Commission. No such amendments are currently under consideration.
Who is responsible for enforcing the Single Family zoning restrictions in neighborhoods?
Enforcement follows a flow chart. First the report is sent to the Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works, which inspects the suspected violation and sends a letter notifying the residents and owner of
their violation (id one indeed exists). The Inspector will then check back after a period of time adequate for the property owner or residents to correct the violation. If the property is still in violation the Inspector will
inform the Parish Attorney's Office, which will then prosecute the offenders. If necessary, the case will go to City Court.
These problems also are occurring in M-1 zones, not just in A-1 zones. Zoning is not the primary issue, but it’s one kind of solution. Why can’t Baton Rouge government focus on eliminating the actual problems?
Residential uses are not permitted in M-1 zones. Any residential use in an M-1 zone is probably non-conforming, and, if the city is provided the address, it can be checked. Please call the Planning Commission at 389-3144 to verify
It is also important to keep in mind that the scope of the problem extends beyond EBRP’s jurisdiction and influence. One of the main reasons for the recent outbreak of A-1 violations is low interest rates. EBRP is also unable to
restrict a person’s right to purchase property. Students living near campus in A-1 zones are one of the more conspicuous groups of violators of this ordinance, but beyond education initiatives and enforcement against violations,
there is little that EBRP can do restrict the flow of students from a university with 30,000 of them and the capacity to house only 5,500 to 6,200.
Rent houses are not residences, they are businesses. Businesses are not allowed in A1
Zoning Districts. Could the laws be changed or strengthened to make these houses businesses officially?
The occupancy of a house by a single family (according to the statutory definition) is considered a single family use, regardless of the nature of the right of occupancy (ownership or rental)
The right to operate rental property in residential zones has been defended by court systems. Denying the right to rent property would create myriad problems, especially for young families who live in compliance to A-1 codes, but
cannot afford to purchase a home in such a neighborhood.
How can I protect my property value? I own my home.
Neighborhoods around the country who have successfully dealt with rental property have done so by organizing strong neighborhood associations. Associations can do a number of things to help minimize the problem including:
reminding realtors or owners that single family dwellings have limits on numbers of renters; reaching out to renters to invite them to be good neighbors; and, if the problem becomes extreme, presenting information to city
departments or elected officials on behalf of the entire neighborhood. For tips on how to organize, please
contact our office at 389-7871 or email us at
I’m concerned that these big alcohol parties will turn potential buyers away from my neighborhood.
Your neighborhood should report parties that have become a nuisance. If a party is ongoing and causing a nuisance, contact the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000.
ENFORCEMENT AND RESPONSE TO COMPLAINTS
At a minimum, why aren’t law enforcement officers courteous to citizens who call to report a neighborhood problem? Why aren’t they even knowledgeable about how to deal with neighborhood complaints?
The Baton Rouge Police Department is one of the top rated in the
nation, but even our police are human. The BRPD must handle a heavy workload and often times must prioritize problems of an urgent nature above those that might not
be life threatening or that don’t need immediate attention. If you ever experience any problems with an officer being discourteous towards you, please report them by calling the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000.
Once I make a complaint call on a rental property in violation, what kind of follow-up and time frame should I expect, so I do not continue to call?
The complaint is investigated within a week. If a violation is found, a certified letter is sent within a week by inspections. It gives the property owner 30 days from receipt to correct the violation. The property is then
re-inspected and referred to the Parish Attorney’s office if the violation persists. The Parish Attorney sends a certified demand letter ordering compliance within 10 days at which point the property is inspected once again and
suit filed if necessary. The matter is then assigned for court within two
(2) to six (6) weeks.
My complaints come at about 3 a.m. I have called the police twice. Slow response by police and lack of resolving the problem is my complaint.
The police must prioritize what calls they respond to. For example, a burglary is something they would respond to before a complaint about loud music. If the officer in question failed to act in a manner you find satisfactory,
call the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000.
How can we speed up the process of evicting violators of the laws?
By aiding the enforcement agents in gathering evidence, such as photographs or other records of violations. This evidence helps the Parish Attorney and the Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works make
their case against the violators. An increase of staff at these departments would also aid in speeding up the process.
Why can’t the penalty be enhanced for zoning violations? A $500 penalty is not enough to deter the problem.
City ordinances all have set penalties for violations when categorized as misdemeanors or other lower crimes. A higher fine would require re-classification to a felony, which would require action by the legislature.
How do we go about getting regular police patrols in our neighborhood-especially on weekend nights?
Neighborhoods can request patrols or hire off-duty police officers to patrol their neighborhoods. For more information on how to do so, contact the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000.
How can homeowners in a neighborhood bring action without hiring an attorney to see that the laws are enforced?
By reporting violations to the Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works at 389-8680, the BRPD at 389-2000, or the EBRSO at 389-5000. The Federation of Civic Associations of Greater Baton Rouge has an
attorney that they use for prosecuting offenders of city ordinances in neighborhoods. If you are interested in finding out if the Federation will aid you by allowing you to use their attorney, contact John Radford at
PARKING / TRAFFIC
How can we reduce the number of cars parking in street, on grass, and in street right of way? Garbage trucks can’t even get through the street.
By reporting the violations to the authorities. Call the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBR Sheriff's Office at 389-5000.
What can be done to stop chronic speeders on neighborhood streets?
The best thing to do is to get stop signs, speed humps, and other such preventative devices installed in your neighborhood. Request these items to be installed by
Dialing 3-1-1. The Traffic Division also
regularly assigns motorcycle officers and radar units to enforce speeding laws in subdivisions as a direct result of citizen complaints. Because of the high demand for this service, however, there is usually a waiting list and
neighborhoods are rotated. For more information contact the Traffic Division Commander at 389-3874.
Is it acceptable to park in front of a home, on the street but off the grass?
No. Parking must be done on a paved area on the lot property.
Can we enforce the “no parking on grass” ordinance?
Yes, by reporting the violations to the authorities. Call the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000.
BLIGHT / TRASH
How can civic associations address old cars, trash, or neglected homes?
To report old cars, trash, or open, abandoned homes they should call
311 or 389-3090 or submit complaints online at
What constitutes the definition of “living at a residence”? Is it based on legal domicile or their physical presence for an extended period of time?
Interpretation of this term is up to the judge, who may evaluate the specific situation and decide whether or not someone is in fact “living at a residence.”
Can we report problems to law enforcement anonymously? I’m afraid the neighbors will get even with me.
Yes, one can report any violations anonymously by calling the BRPD at 389-2000 or the EBRSO at 389-5000.
Presently aggrieved property owners file a complaint with the Parish Attorney identifying occupants of a rental property by including photographs of automobile license plates and stating that these autos have been at the rental
property on a continuous basis for at least twenty days. The Parish Attorney then notifies the DPW Chief Zoning Inspector who sends the owner of the rental property a certified letter requiring a notarized response within 30 days
identifying all occupants and their relationship. This Zoning Inspector has stated that due to not having adequate staff, there is no physical inspection. Could the number of staff members at the Permit and Inspections Division of
the Department of Public Works be increased so that they may be more affective?
Yes, if recommended by the Mayor-President and approved by the Metro Council.
Are there possibilities to expedite this process for occupants who fail to meet the UDC definition of family, either under the present law or legislation that could be proposed?
We are required to provide due process. An amendment to the US Constitution would be required to deprive property owners of this right.
Could the original complainant send such a certified letter and forward the response or lack thereof with the original complainant to the Parish Attorney thereby fast tracking the process?
It would have no legal effect. Giving such authority to neighbors who on occasion have conflicting motives would require an amendment to state law and would be problematic.
Could the Parish Attorney use legal channels to identify the owners of the automobiles from license plate photographs provided by the complainant?
They already do this. The Parish Attorney’s Office runs the license plates through DMV if a lawsuit is contemplated.
Could the civil penalties levied against illegal occupants and their lessor be paid all/part to the Police and Sheriff departments for their participation in this process?
Current budgeting procedure is dictated by the Plan of Government. Such an earmarking would require an amendment to state law.
Could a new function such as a parking violation patrol be established to give tickets for parking complaints?
If recommended by the Mayor-President and approved by the Metro Council.
A-1 ZONING SCENARIO
The Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved a new residential subdivision development north of LSU in which the newspaper quoted the developer as expecting 10% of the homes of the homes to be occupied by students. What
official proactive notice did the Commission give the developer regarding the UDC definition of “family”?
The definition of family has been in place since 1954, when the original zoning ordinance was adopted. It was advertised and public hearings held in accordance with state law and the plan of government.
Currently the Parish Attorney states that neither real estate agents, brokers, property managers, nor Realtors come under their jurisdiction to litigate and assess penalties. Why does UDC section 6.7 A. not apply?
Zoning violations are based on use, what is permitted and not permitted. The realtors, etc. are not actually committing the usage violation. There is currently no law which prohibits acting as agent for a transaction that
ultimately results in a use violation.
What are the existing civil penalties for owners and occupants who are found to have violated UDC by the Parish Attorney?
Fines of up to $500 and/or six months in jail at the discretion of the Judge.
Is there a way to legally give subdivisions a new chance to enforce restrictions for the present and future even if they have been lax in enforcing them in the past without having to enter into litigation with new offenders?
Private subdivision restrictions can be amended/supplemented with the approval of a majority of property owners under the Homeowner's Association Act.