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Airbnb makes it harder to track short-term rentals in NOLA

It no longer requires license numbers—which are required by the city

Update: We’ve added a statement from an Airbnb Spokesperson.

Not even a month after the City of New Orleans issued a temporary ban on some short-term rentals, Airbnb made it a lot harder for the city to track them.

The Lens and both report that Airbnb removed a short-term rental enforcement tool that required hosts supply license numbers on their listings. The City of New Orleans Safety and Permits office used the license numbers to determine the address of listings, and if hosts were in compliance with the short-term rental regulations.

According to Airbnb Spokesperson Laura Rillos, the short-term rental service removed the license number pass-through requirement on June 8. In turn, Airbnb now allows hosts to put their license numbers in the public listing description of the rental.

Beyond the licenses, there’s no other openly available information on Airbnb to determine the address of the listed rental, which might make it difficult for the city to track. And it also means that hosts are technically no longer required to submit license numbers on a listing—despite it being a requirement by the city. However, the Safety and Permits does have an exhaustive list and map of short-term rental host addresses used to previously sign up for permits.

“We’ve been working in partnership with the City of New Orleans for the past two years, implementing a package of enforcement tools, including data sharing and a pass-through registration system, tailored to the City’s new short-term rental rules passed in December 2016,” said Rillos. “The City changed the rules in May 2018, and these unilateral changes are incompatible with one of the enforcement tools, the registration system previously available through Airbnb.”

On Thursday, May 24, New Orleans City Council banned the issuance and renewal of temporary licenses in several popular neighborhoods in New Orleans for nine months by creating an Interim Zoning District. The district covers Marigny, Treme, Bywater, Central City, Lower Garden District, Uptown, and Central Business District, and parts of Mid-City and the 7th Ward.

The ban targets temporary licenses, which are used to list whole-home rentals. The legislation does not affect single rooms or owner-occupied multi-family homes.