As previously discussed here and here, short-term rentals (“STR”) are generally allowed in New Orleans (other than in the French Quarter), but are subject to regulation and certain restrictions. As part of the City’s regulatory scheme, STR hosts must obtain a license to list their property on websites such as Airbnb for a period of less than 30 days.
As most local readers are aware, the composition of the New Orleans City Council changed significantly in the most recent election. In fact, the majority of the seven-member Council are first-time members. On May 24, 2018, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 32,288, which establishes a nine-month Interim Zoning District that froze granting STR licenses in certain zoning districts to individuals who do not currently have a license. These districts include the Historic Core, Historic Urban, Central Business Districts, MU-1 Mixed Use Medium Intensity, and MU-2 Mixed Use High Intensity districts.
According to the City Council, the goal of the moratorium is to temporarily halt one of the most common forms of rentals in New Orleans “until we tailor regulations to meet the needs of the city.” The City Council has directed the City Planning Commission to conduct a study on the impact of existing STR regulations and assess whether changes need to be made. The study is expected to be completed within four months of the Ordinance’s passage, and a public hearing is expected to be held by late July.
The CPC Study
The CPC study will compare local laws and data and STR presence to other cities, similar in size, including Austin, Charleston, Nashville, and Savannah. The study will assess whether these cities’ respective laws could be better suited to New Orleans than the City’s current regulations. The study may also reveal updates on the City Council’s new regulations. According to Councilmember Kristin Giselson Palmer, “[t]he legislative package includes a process for a hearing to inform the public of developments of the study, gather their feedback and ultimately create a new STR law.”
Airbnb Removes Pass-through Registration System
After the May 24 meeting in which Ordinance No. 32,288 was passed, Airbnb removed the pass-through registration system for New Orleans from its website, which effectively removed the previously public license numbers from the site. Although no longer included as a “default option,” STR hosts can still manually include their license number in their property description. Airbnb’s removal of the pass-through registration system makes it more difficult for the City to police short-term rentals and ensure that they are in compliance with the existing law. According to Airbnb, the registration system was in place as part of its 2016 agreement with the City to regulate STRs, and the current freeze on STR permits is “in conflict with the platform.”
You can expect a future update should the City Council ultimately decide to overhaul the current STR regulations.