SHREVEPORT, La (KTAL/KMSS) – A housing program by the City of Shreveport opens up questions about who owns the majority of rental properties in the city.

The city has a fairly new program that asks rental owners to register their properties. With a deadline approaching, city officials said only a small fraction have signed up. But the reason behind this program goes beyond city limits.

City officials said a large portion of the rental housing sector of Shreveport is owned by out-of-state and foreign businesses and individuals.

“So there was no real way to get in touch with these out-of-town landlords,” Alan Clarke, Metropolitan Planning Commission – Shreveport said.

Clarke said this is why the city created the Residential Rental Registration Program passed by the Shreveport City Council in December of 2022.

“We could have a method in which where something goes wrong property standards could immediately get in touch with them,” Clarke said.

He said the city did not have much data on the actual number of rental properties. Calls kept coming into property standards from tenants reporting problems with their living conditions. While violation notices to landlords were not being received.

“That’s why we were requesting there be a local person who is designated to ask any questions we may have about their properties,” Clarke said.

He said it is a somewhat unique situation for the city because not all cities have a rental registration program due to costs and difficulties getting owners to register. But Shreveport city code already provided for a similar process.

“It’s not widespread around the country,” Clarke said.

So far only 200 properties have compiled out of the 33,000 identified as active by the city. The new regulations also allow renters to report substandard housing conditions for property standards to investigate.

“Many instances, there is abuse by tenants. Many times it’s not just the landlord that are a problem. That’s why we’re trying to get the word out positively that we’re not coming after landlords,” Clarke said.

He said the goal is to bring more transparency and accountability.

“This is far from government overreach. It’s just trying to establish a positive with both tenants and landlords. To ensure that every citizen of Shreveport has a quality place to live,” Clarke said.

Failure to register could come with penalties or fines. However, Clarke said they really do not want to have to enforce these consequences. The registration form is on the city’s website. The deadline is December.