In New Orleans, all “short-term rentals” are not created equally
In the French Quarter, one of the biggest threats to the residential base is the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals. What action will the city’s Administration take to stem this tide and enforce the laws on the books? This is a potential revenue stream for our cash-strapped city. These operations don’t pay the hotel/motel taxes and they undercut legitimate hotels and bed & breakfasts. They reduce the availability of rental units for people who wish to reside in this neighborhood.
Mayor Landrieu somehow missed answering this question during his hour of otherwise meticulous responses; as he was wrapping up the meeting, he asked if there was anything he’d not replied to, and I called out “Short-term rentals!” He replied hastily, “That’s an enforcement issue, right? We’ll get to it.”
The following story appeared in the Times-Picayune on Sunday, 9/10/11: Mitch Landrieu ally snagged in crackdown on illegal short-term rentals
It’s a significant problem in the French Quarter, Tremé, and the Faubourg Marigny, and one glance at the Craigslist posts advertising “vacation rentals” will confirm that the problem is a city-wide issue.
On my block of Governor Nicholls Street, there are at least four illegal short-term rentals operating — some frequently, others intermittently. My apartment is literally book-ended by two: one is an apartment with a balcony that is rented sporadically for events such as Jazz Fest and the Red Dress Run weekend; the other is a slave quarters that is rented regularly for weekend and event stays. I’m reasonably certain that both could easily be rented as regular apartments with year-round tenancy.
This is a wholly residential block. I’d much rather have full-time neighbors who would be eligible to register to vote locally instead of a revolving door parade of weekend & festival out-of-town party people, particularly since the neighbor who offers the more frequent rental isn’t often in the main house on weekends and doesn’t have to deal with his “guests,” and occasional renters of the balcony apartment are often somehow unable to distinguish Governor Nicholls Street from Bourbon Street.
This issue was covered extensively by local media six months ago during March 2011:
Critics call on New Orleans to enforce rules against illegal guesthouses
(The WWL story was a direct result of my sending in a list of a dozen Craigslist ads appearing over a two-week period and a website link for the slave quarter short-term rental to the station asking why the city didn’t investigate such blatant advertising of illegal rentals.)
City Hall’s response to these two stories was an unhappy one; the organizations & individuals involved were basically raked over the coals for not “working with” the city’s Administration and instead going to the media. However (to the best of my awareness), there still is no procedure in place for enforcing the “no rentals less than 60 days” in French Quarter or “no rentals less than 30 days” in the rest of the city.
Finally, I offer this for your consideration: The “Film New Orleans” Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy offers private residence short-term rentals for use by film & crew personnel without posting a general notation regarding the city’s laws regarding applicable length-of-stay requirements (it seems to be up to the advertiser to note the relevant limitation).
Using this list of available rentals as an example, is there a way for privately-owned residential short-term rentals to operate legally in the French Quarter (and city-wide), or not? It’s been my observation that most film crews rarely stay in our city for two-month stretches of time. If these rentals are operating legally and with the city Administration’s blessing, why isn’t this option available to private homeowners wishing to rent on a short-term basis for other purposes? And if such a mechanism does exist to permit legal short-term rentals, why are the limitation laws still on the books?
Michelle Krupa noted the following in the most recent Times-Picayune story regarding this issue:
Landrieu’s top aide in March said city officials weren’t likely to crack down on ordinary residents who rent out their homes during tourist events, opting instead to focus on unregistered proprietors who regularly rent rooms or apartments under the guise of legitimate hotels.
In contrast, it seems that our Mayor’s lecture at the meeting earlier this week has diminished significance, as it appears that the decisions being made by our city’s Administration regarding how these laws are being enforced continue to be consistently arbitrary:
When the city does start cracking down on enforcement of the laws, Landrieu warned, it will be “across the board.” So, he concluded, quoting his mother, “Be careful what you ask for.”
Either the laws regarding short-term rentals currently on the books need to change in a way that replaces the lost revenue generated by the hotel/motel tax and provides legitimacy and protection for the guests staying at these private residences, or the existing laws need to be enforced consistently.