Mow to Own Program

The Mow to Own Good Neighbor Opportunity Program is a sale of adjudicated property program. This program sells adjudicated (extremely tax delinquent property) below market value to adjoining landowners.

In July of 2023 the regulations around Mow to Own changed, please see the link to the rules and to the Frequently asked Questions.

Available Properties

The listing of available properties can be found on the City’s vendor for adjudicated property sales, Civic Source.

Civic Source will be doing all intake of deposits and outreach for this program. The City of New Orleans will be checking each party that places a deposit for eligibility prior to the vendor notifying the adjoining lot owner that they may commence caring for the lot. Eligibility checks include checking that the adjoining owner does not have code violations and is up to date on property taxes. Adjudicated properties that are worth $25,000.00 or less will be listed and available to adjoining landowners prior to public auction. The eligible adjoining landowner that first provides the refundable deposit to Civic Source will potentially be the one to care for and be transferred the adjudicated vacant lot after the City monitors the care of the lot for year.

Every vacant lot has a different status so to inquire as to specific eligibility please email Civic Source or email the City program administrator. Please note that the City or its vendor does not guarantee any property will be transferred to any particular individual, business, or organization. Any participation in the program is at the adjoining landowner’s risk and all parties should get private legal advice about making this type of investment.

Mow to Own Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mow to Own Good Neighbor Opportunity Program?

The Mow to Own Good Neighbor Opportunity Program is a program that offers adjoining landowners the opportunity to purchase extremely tax delinquent (adjudicated) vacant lots below market value after a monitored year of demonstrating care of a property. The program is not dependent on the vacant lot having code violations though most adjudicated vacant lots have a record of code violations.

Who is eligible for the Mow to Own Good Neighbor Opportunity Program?

Adjoining owners who share a property line are eligible to potentially purchase an adjoining vacant lot. The adjoining landowner may be a corporation and there is no longer a requirement for the adjoining landowner to live in the adjoining property so owners of vacant lots are also eligible. The City will check that the adjoining owner is in good standing with the City and does not have any open code violation cases and is up to date on property taxes prior to approval to start caring for the lot for Mow to Own.

What properties are in the program?

A select number of adjudicated vacant lots that are at or under $25,000.00 “land value” on the assessor website will be on offer first to adjoining landowners on Civic Source. If the property is listed on Civic Source the adjoining owner may follow directions to place a deposit. If the property is not listed on the website the adjoining owner may contact Civic Source to see if the property is eligible to be listed in the future. Civic Source will also be doing outreach about the current listings on their site.

There used to be a list of properties on the City’s website. Is there a list of properties?

Yes the listing of currently available properties can be found on Civic Source.

All tax delinquent properties have differing statuses. The availability may change over time with owners paying back taxes and other factors. To avoid confusion and give real time information all potentially eligible properties will listed on the City’s vendor Civic Source. We suggest looking up the property that you are interested in first on the assessor website to see if over the address of the owner it says “c/o City of New Orleans”. You should also check to see if the property is valued by the assessor at $25,000.00 or less—this information is available online at the assessor website. If both those factors exist you should go to Civic Source to see if the property is listed and contact Civic Source identifying yourself as an adjoining landowner to tender a deposit at 833-MyCivic. If the property is not listed on Civic Source’s website email the City or contact Civic Source by phone at (833)-MyCivic or to get the status of the property. Remember when emailing about the status of a property that you should be providing the address in the subject line. On a rolling basis we will let Civic Source know what properties of interest people are contacting us about so they may be exposed on the website in the future if they are eligible.

The vacant lot I want is not on Civic Source. Why is that?

Reasons a vacant lot may not be listed or not available to the adjoining landowner:

  • The vacant lot is not adjudicated (not extremely tax delinquent).
  • The vacant lot is adjudicated but has not been adjudicated long enough to be sold. For legal reasons properties are usually listed after being recorded as adjudicated for 5 years.
  • The vacant lot is owned by the City or NORA, contact Property Management or NORA about such vacant lots.
  • There is a structure on the lot. All structures must go to public auction.
  • The vacant lot has legal issues that must be resolved prior to being listed.
  • The vacant lot was removed from listing in the past after it did not receive a deposit in previous years.
  • The vacant lot is or will be a part of a City program for public benefit and is excluded from sale.

What about properties over $25,000.00?

Properties over $25,000.00 will be open to public bidding, if after a period of public exposure those properties do not receive bids then some of those lots will be selected to be exposed to adjoining owners on a case by case basis. Offering properties to adjoining landowners is dependent on the revenue needs of the City and the location and size of the property among other factors.

How much does it cost to buy property in the program?

Adjoining owners will pay closing and processing costs listed on the site this includes legal noticing, a title search, and title insurance. Most properties will cost between $5,000 to $8000. The amount for the property is in the individual property listing on Civic Source.

When will the property I want be available?

Not all properties are eligible for the Mow to Own program.Eligible properties were selected based on their tax adjudication (tax delinquency) status, title history, size, and the absence of a structure or building on the lot. Properties may become eligible for the program in the future. However, there may be other ways to obtain such properties such as: contacting the owner directly, visiting to see if the property is being offered at a tax sale or adjudicated property sale, or by contacting Code Enforcement to see if it qualifies for a Sheriff Sale (i.e. if the property is blighted or a public nuisance). Prior to investing in any of these programs, consult your private attorney or title company.

What if both I and the adjoining landowners on the other side of the vacant lot both want the vacant lot?

The first party to tender a deposit to Civic Source will be able to participate in the program. In the event of disqualification, the vacant lot will again be offered to adjoining owners.

Post sale will the property be free of past taxes and all prior judgments/liens? Will there be clear title?

The City’s vendor for tax sales Civic Source will follow all applicable State laws regarding tax sales including notifying all owners of the vacant lots. They also will do all required advertising. Due to them following the legal process required, title insurance will be issued with each sale. However, all properties have upsides and downsides, it is smart to have an understanding of what you can do in the location based on local zoning laws to make sure that you can carry through with any plans you may have.

If the owner redeems the property by paying the back taxes during my year as an applicant do I get my grass cutting and debris removal costs back?

Any participant in Mow to Own assumes the financial risk that redemption (property taxes being paid) or legal impediments will cause the property to fall out of the program. We recommend getting private legal advice as to what options you have legally if this happens prior to participating in this kind of program. The City can’t assist in getting you reimbursed for care of the lot from the owner.

If something goes wrong or I change my mind do I get my deposit back?

Pre-recordation of the deed the deposit is refundable if the adjoining landowner decides not to participate any longer or if the City terminates participation in the program. The adjudicated vacant lot is likely to be offered to other adjoining landowners after the return of a deposit if possible. The City can’t assist in getting you reimbursed for care of the lot from the owner.

How will the City check whether the adjoining landowner is cutting the grass?

The City will periodically check whether complaints have been received from 311 and will do randomized physical inspections. Note that any confirmed reports of violations may result in notification of termination from the program and return of the deposit if immediate compliance does not occur. The City reserves the right to terminate participation if the adjoining landowner is shown to be bad actor.

I’ve been taking care of a vacant lot for years. Can the City just give me the property if I prove it?

Proving care of a vacant lot that may have had different individuals and the City Lot Abatement program care for it or portions of it over the years causes issues of confusion and conflict. The challenge of trying to distinguish who may have cared for a lot and has more merit to participate would lead to problems and delays in administering the program. At this time, the program is based on a year of care that the City is monitoring in the interest of fairness. Please get private legal advice if you have invested in a property by caring for it in the past and want to explore legal options on how to recover the costs of care. The City can’t assist in getting you reimbursed for care of the lot from the owner for past costs.