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New Orleans inches toward tighter short-term rental regulations

Last week, City Council members voted unanimously to limit short-term rental licenses to owner-occupied properties

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After a years-long debate that has pitted neighbor against neighbor, city officials are moving toward tighter short-term rental (STR) regulations in New Orleans.

The new provision would outlaw “whole-home” rentals in residential neighborhoods. It also maintains a total ban on STRs in the Garden District and most of the French Quarter (save for a short stretch of Bourbon Street).

Under the new provision, which is consistent with the recommendations set forth in a 2018 report by the City Planning Commission, hosts would have to live in the property they rent out and have a valid homestead exemption.

They could rent as many as three units in a fourplex, as long as they lived in the remaining unit and hosted no more than 12 guests per night.

Short-term rentals were legalized in New Orleans in 2016. The city’s current model permits three kinds of rentals: accessory short-term rentals, temporary short-term rentals, and commercial short-term rentals.

Accessory STRs fall within a homeowner’s property—a bedroom or half a shotgun double—and can be rented every night of the year. A temporary STR license limits the number of nights the rental is available to 90 per year. The commercial license allows unlimited rental nights, but the property must be in a non-residential zone.

Housing rights organizations including Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative criticized this model as too permissive.

“The City’s approach to STR regulation accelerates gentrification and the displacement of residents by permitting the limitless removal of homes from the housing market for conversion into STRs and ignoring the inflation of overall housing costs to which STRs contribute,” stated a report issued by Jane Place. “STRs in New Orleans are having a pervasive and corrosive effect on a housing market already in crisis.”

STR moguls counter that their hospitality businesses help pay their bills and positively impact their communities.

“These residents are small business owners who create jobs, restore blighted properties, and increase overall visitor spending across New Orleans,” Airbnb public affairs manager Laura Rillos said in a statement.

The new policies will be written into an ordinance, which goes to a final vote in City Council within 90 days.

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