Jul 142014

Owen Courreges

Your home is not a hotel, obviously. However, an ever-growing number of New Orleans homeowners want to run a hotel-type business on the side. With tourism booming in the midst of a generally weak economy, it’s a quick way to make some extra cash.

This is the nexus of the controversy over “illegal short-term rentals” that has been permeating local political discourse in recent months. Due to zoning and licensing laws, there’s simply no way for homeowners to rent a room out as a vacation rental. Most crucial is the fact that any lease has to be for at least 30 days (or 60 days in the French Quarter).

Adding fuel to the fire is Airbnb, a website which allows users to rent out lodging. The company was founded in 2008 in San Francisco, which ironically is both a city that bans such short-term rentals and has enforced its ban vigorously, filing lawsuits against repeat violators.

New Orleans is taking a similar tack. This past week the City Council signaled its intention to rein in illegal short-term rentals by clarifying and tightening the definition of a “transient vacation rental” in the city code. However, Council President Stacy Head seemed to leave open the possibility of allowing some transient rentals to remain under tight regulation.

“There are a growing number of unregulated, illegal and sometimes very problematic short-term rentals,” Head remarked. “We’ve got to put together a comprehensive way to regulate and, at times, restrict and certainly harness tax dollars from them.”

This debate is hardly unique to New Orleans. While many cities lack significant regulations on transient rentals, many have clamped down. Austin, for example, set up a complex regulatory scheme in 2012, and many other cities have enacted outright bans.

The issues at stake are twofold: First, it would be unfair to exempt transient rentals from all the taxes, fees, and licensing that hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts have to go through. The city’s hotel tax is the biggest issue; the rate has increased greatly in recent years and is now up to 16.44%, which is among the highest in the nation.

Transient rentals are, by their nature, hard to regulate. Getting people on board with going by City Hall to get a license and a tax certificate for simply renting out a single unit will be difficult, if not impossible. Meanwhile, a real crackdown on transient rentals would require a rigorous enforcement effort from the city, one that might not pay for itself.

Secondly, although hosting a transient rental might benefit the homeowner, it creates problems for everyone else. Tourists who seek vacation rental are more likely to be loud, stay out late, and generally irritate the neighbors. A never-ending cavalcade of drunken tourists arriving home from Bourbon Street is hardly conducive to a residential neighborhood. It’s one thing if this is restricted to a few residential bed and breakfasts; it’s quite another if it’s half your neighbors.

Moreover, transient rentals often take away prime housing stock from actual residents, thereby increasing prices in the rental market. With rents already spiking throughout the historic areas of the city, this is another major blow to housing affordability.

It’s easy to understand why homeowners elect to go the transient rental route instead of a traditional long-term lease. A room or small apartment that might rent for between $600 and a $1,000 monthly in a normal lease can fetch $150 per night.

And transient rentals don’t require a working kitchen or substantial storage space. A bedroom set and a bathroom are all you really need.

Alas, as attractive as the option is, the scales still weigh against transient rentals. Ultimately, they can cause serious problems as huge swaths of the city could turn into quasi-hotels that skirt regulations and avoid taxes.

The reason for this problem, however, is not simply selfish homeowners -– it’s the failure of the city to allow the real estate market to keep up with demand. There has been a moratorium on new hotels in the French Quarter since 1969. Zoning and height restrictions have often served to prevent the development of new hotels, particularly in other prime locations.

Worst of all, following Hurricane Katrina, many bed and breakfasts folded as tourism plummeted. These were small businesses that made little profit and could hardly be expected to weather such a major catastrophe. During that period, many BnB’s were bought up and converted to other uses (including the house I currently own).

With high demand for transient rentals and an inadequate supply, it’s unsurprising that illegal short-term rentals are cropping up to pick up the slack. The solution is not to legalize these admittedly “problematic” rentals, but to accelerate hotel development to satisfy demand.

There are some positive signs in this regard. This week the city council waived some needlessly onerous zoning requirements to allow the construction of a new $35 million hotel in the CBD, to be built on the site of what is now a valet parking lot. Although the council stuck to its guns on the zoning code’s absurd height restriction, it did allow an additional floor despite the refrain that such dispensation would technically violate the holy writ of the “Master Plan.”

Sadly, Stacy Head was one of two councilmembers who voted against the project. She championed her conception of rule of law, embodied in a rote adherence to the Master Plan, as trumping practical economic concerns.

That was a mistake. It’s essentially “zero tolerance” zoning, and when combined with a zeal for restricting illegal short-term rentals, it’s a fundamental refusal to acknowledge reality. If we are to eschew AirBnB and start the process of eliminating illegal transient rentals, we also ought to help bolster supply in the market for hotel and vacation rentals.

Curbing illegal short-term rentals is good policy, but we need to ensure that we aren’t fighting market forces on both ends. In the end, that’s a war we can’t win.

Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.

  46 Responses to “Owen Courreges: How to stop the Airbnb invasion”

  1. “Secondly, although hosting a transient rental might benefit the homeowner, it creates problems for everyone else. Tourists who seek vacation rental are more likely to be loud, stay out late, and generally irritate the neighbors. A never-ending cavalcade of drunken tourists arriving home from Bourbon Street is hardly conducive to a residential neighborhood.”

    This is the same line trotted out by the NIMBYs, telling fantastic tales of debauchery and comparing Airbnb hosts to drug dealers. Really. I’ve hosted on Airbnb for about a year. I live on the property. Statistically I’m “typical.” As a resident on the property it is in my best interest to have quiet, courteous guests. I want peace and quiet when I’m in my home. I’ve had over 50 couples stay with me and have never had a problem. Perhaps I’m exceptional compared to some other hosts. But that’s a broad brush you’re using to suggest that tourist = drunken irritation.

    You know what’s a problem in my residential block? I’ve got two different residences (one set owns their house, the others have rented there for years) who routinely have late night gatherings til 2 or 3 in the morning. Compounding the problem is no less than 3 dogs on the same block who stay up well past midnight. Vacation renters generally don’t have dogs (and I don’t allow them).

    It’s an oversimplification to state that vacation renters are a menace to a residential neighborhood. *Rude, self-entitled people* are a menace to a residential neighborhood, and unfortunately I have quite a few of them living long term on my block. I wish they were just vacation renters, they’d be gone by now.

    • Craig, get a life….you live in New Orleans.

    • Craig,

      I’ll agree that many, if not most, Airbnb “landlords” host sedate vacationers who aren’t raucous and don’t create a nuisance for neighbors. However, I’m not sure that you are necessarily “typical,” and I think fears of problems have some merit. This is New Orleans, and people often come here to have a less than sober experience.

      More importantly, I think there’s a major risk of residential areas becoming engulfed in transient rentals, which can’t be good for neighbors (strangers arriving all the time, keeping varying hours, etc,). I’ve heard that certain streets in the Quarter and Marigny have begun to have difficulties with this. I doubt this would be the case if demand was being met by hotels and traditional bed and breakfasts in the legal rental market.

      Thus, while I think that there may be problems with illegal transient rentals, bear in mind that I’m laying blame for them at the feet of the city. If there is a huge unmet demand caused by an artificial shortage, it’s perfectly understandable that people will try and meet that demand even if doing so is not strictly legal.

      • I agree that some of the complaints about short term rentals are legitimate (others sound fairly exaggerated). Especially in the case of absentee landlords, which I don’t support. If City Council ever moves to legislate on short term rentals I hope they will make that distinction (but I won’t hold my breath).

        And maybe I read between the lines a little too much on your piece but I don’t think more high rises are the solution. Unless you see those being built outside of the historic districts.

  2. The term “selfish homeowners” is more than a little harsh. Your arguments suffer dramatically when you lump every person into one category. I realize you are writing your opinion, not a balanced and objective news story, but I am still disappointed in your piece. You are simply venting, not reporting, and that’s unfortunate.

    And there is a positive side to short-term rentals. Many people love them because they can live like a local and the homeowners treat them as guests.

    And not all renters are loud and obnoxious.

    Unfortunately, your bias is so clear and your article is so slanted, you neglected to make these points.

    For shame.

    • frustrated,

      Obviously not everyone who hosts an illegal transient rental is being selfish; I was simply describing who we should really be blaming for this — pitting the perception of some homeowners selfishly hosting illegal rentals to the detriment of their neighbors against that of the city creating the demand for such rentals.

      You seem to have missed the point of my article. I simply wanted to point out that some of the gripes about having transient rentals throughout residential areas are justified. Problems are likely to result in many cases, even if they’re not the rule. However, the nexus of this controversy is a shortage of lodging. A significant part of the reason why these transient rentals are popping up is because the city’s onerous land use policies haven’t allowed the legal lodging market to keep up with demand in choice areas. That’s the primary point I’m trying to make.

      • I didn’t miss the point. Even wanna-be journalists, like yourself, should be held accountable for slanted opinion pieces.

  3. At some point we also need to acknowledge the saturation point for tourism. Too much of a good thing is not always better.

    • QuinenesSomos,

      I’m not quite ready to say that, and in any event, I think any “cure” to perceived excess tourism would be far worse than the disease.

  4. In my view, airbnb host-resident “private room” rentals are generally beneficial, whereas airbnb host-absent “entire place” rentals have numerous negative effects.

    From a policy perspective there are three main issues: 1) how to appropriately regulate limited commercial use of residential property; 2) who to protect the stock of month-to-month rental housing; and 3) how to protect guests, neighbors and neighborhoods.

    I live in Portland, Oregon where City Council has proposed a package to facilitate private room rentals in single-family homes and duplex units, but limit the amount of days per year hosts can be absent and rent their entire place. In the next six months Portland will consider if it is possible to add apartment and condo units perhaps with permission of the Landlord or Condo Association required. Next year it will develop a plan for on-going, unsupervised Vacation Rentals. As with Austin, Texas, it seems like it takes about 2 years for a medium sized city to develop a comprehensive short-term rental policy.

    • Steven,

      You might be right about this. Part of the solution may be to legalize some transient rentals with reasonable regulations of the type you describe.

      However, I still believe that allowing more hotels and bed and breakfasts should enter into the equation either way.

      • Mr. C.,
        There is huge $ at play with airbnb hitting the # of rooms later this year, to be the 3rd largest behind Hilton and Hyatt.
        + look at Steven in Portland posts- does he have skin in the game?…
        I don’t care- but am leery of the uber cool Millennial logic lobby that say’s chill out bro and gets $ to say it.
        + there is a Walmart effect in tourist heavy cities with STR’s; they are the new big box store, and affordable housing is Main Street USA.

  5. If this city had adequate public transportation, I can think of miles and miles of lakefront and I-10 frontage that could use some hotel development—-namely Hayne Blvd, I-10 service roads in NO East, as well as Chef Hwy. Why not? And then there’s Tulane between La Salle and Carrollton………

    • I agree that we need better public transportation: but who wants to come to New Orleans and stay in any of the places you mentioned?

    • The city should be trying to develop the areas you mentioned as industrial alternatives TO tourism, in order to diversify our local economy: not as further ways to become ever more dependent ON tourism.

  6. Although it may sound like heresy to many, the problem in my opinion is too many tourists. Jobs are important, but it’s too much of a good thing. Everyone will agree that there is a point at which there are enough tourists. I think we’ve reached that point.

  7. This is ridiculous….”Tourists who seek vacation rental are more likely to be loud, stay out
    late, and generally irritate the neighbors. A never-ending cavalcade of
    drunken tourists arriving home from Bourbon Street is hardly conducive
    to a residential neighborhood.”
    Owen, has it occurred to you that perhaps the “tourists” who stay at an AirBnB Uptown, or in Gentilly, or in the Bywater, are trying to get as FAR away from the Bourbon street circus as they can? Many people come to New Orleans and do NOT want to stay in the limited areas that we have designated as the “tourist zone.” Tourism is changing, travelers want authentic experiences in real places. New Orleans needs to change along with them. I would think that with the limited employment opportunities that New Orleans offers, that the city would welcome new revenue, and employment streams for its citizens.

    • Nolahappy,

      A lot of these transient rentals (if not most of them) are in the Quarter or in areas near the Quarter, like the Treme, the Marigny, and the Bywater. These are also the areas where hotel development has been the most restricted.

      Sure, many people who seek out illegal transient rentals are looking to stay in a more sedate area, but as I’ve said before, this is New Orleans and the types of tourists who come here are often looking to party. It’s not always going to be a problem, and with some property owners who host Airbnb travelers I’m sure it’s never a problem. However, when you’re dealing with an unregulated market in a place like New Orleans, it’s not far-fetched.

    • As a person who has lived near a “short-term” rental – I can attest that they heavily impact the quality of life of their neighbors. From live bands in the backyard at 2 am to strippers on the lawns of the bachelor parties. Your acoustic guitar may sound find at 3 pm – but I don’t want to hear it at 3 am. NOT ONE SINGLE GUEST visit was pleasant for those who lived nearby. If you complain – the “guests” remind you that “it’s New Orleans man, Chill”. Like I don’t know what city I live in. I complained one time to the owner and the guests visited me under my bedroom window to serenade me in mocking tones at 4 am. They have sex on the front lawn, and feel that they can be louder here than in their hotel rooms where they would be kicked out by the management. The police don’t come. The owners don’t care. I was even told by a guest that if I did not like it I SHOULD MOVE – WHY WOULD I NEED TO MOVE FROM A HOUSE I HAVE LIVED IN FOR 30 YEARS BECAUSE SOMEONE WANTS TO MAKE A FAST BUCK?

      • snixy,

        Those are the types of problems I’m talking about. They might not be typical, but when the city creates a market imbalance, a black market results. Black markets are notorious for causing problems precisely because they are completely unregulated.

        • The only solution is owner on premises. There has to be a responsible adult to supervise. These “guests” assume that they can go hog wild because there is no one there to say “NO”. IT SHOULD NOT BE MY JOB TO BE A BITCH. If you call the cops too often – they don’t come when you are in physical trouble. You are placing me in a position to be a regulatory agency. I want my residential neighborhood to be a residential neighborhood. If I wanted to live in a “commercial zone” I would not have paid a half a million dollars invested in this house. All my life savings were spent to rebuild it after Katrina. I should not be forced to move to sleep on what used to be a quiet street. I did not sign up to be a cop. I did not buy this house because I wanted to be abused. Why should I have to get dressed at 3 am to talk to a cop weekend after weekend because someone wants to make a buck off my “gracious neighborhood”?

      • Hey, Snixy, that’s the sad way people think anymore, especially here in the City that Forgot to Care. If you buy a house, fix it up, obey the law, pay your taxes, and in general be an asset to the community. . . and you complain because someone around you wants to trash the neighborhood. . . YOU are treated as the bad guy. As far as the police. . . the sad fact is that we don’t have any here: except, of course, to protect the tourists during Mardi Gras. And to make extra money working details.

  8. When we stayed at one for 2 nights in Garden District, it was great. We saved $$ on lodging and spent it on food and drinks. Owen, sounds like sour grapes.

    • Mike Flood,

      How would it be sour grapes? As a practical matter I have no dog in this fight. I simply think that concerns about too many illegal transient rentals popping up, particularly in certain areas where demand for temporary lodging is extremely high, are at least theoretically justified. The city bears much of the blame for this situation because onerous zoning restrictions have prevented the legal lodging market from keeping up with demand.

      I’m placing blame on government for this situation — it hindered the free market and thus created a black market, and black markets virtually always have some problems. I don’t think this is an exception.

  9. As the owner of a small urban inn, I say give anyone who wants to the chance to become a legal B&B, maybe waive whatever initial fees are involved, set them up with a tax number, let them collect/remit taxes like we have to do, end of story. Nothing will stop them from still being listed on air bnb. Anyone who doesn’t want to do this, go after the guests as well as owners with tickets, or summonses, or whatever they are called. That would get the attention of those who choose to go the air bnb route! I’m sure air bnb would have to make sure their users are aware of the law then, and the problem would solve itself.

    • The problem “does not solve itself”. We have taken it to city hall, to the city council, to the zoning department, to the permits department, to the police department. No one enforces the law. The city sends them a “sternly worded letter”. They rake in the money and the quality of my life is ruined.

      • We went the legal route in another city for the same problem and lost. It was a rude awakening to say the least. Airbnb is a monopoly and private rentals are definitely illegal. People come to New Orleans for “quality of life”. I hope you are able to win your battles in the future.

        By the way, the people who were making our lives miserable didn’t even get a “sternly worded letter.” They are still laughing all the way to the bank!

      • I guarantee you that if the “guests” can be presented with a summons at the beginning of their stay, this will have a chilling affect for the future – after all, don’t you know these “guests” would be all over the comment section of airbnb with their experience? Who wants to face that possibility during your vacation??? Since it is the neighbors who know what is going on, and when, seems to me there could be a reporting system, like there is for Safety & Permits and the HDLC – where officers are immediately on the scene with notices they put on the property! Try that one on for size – can you imagine coming home in the afternoon/evening to a notice telling you that YOU, the guest(as well as the property owners) are breaking the law and subject to a fat daily fine???

        • can you get the city to do this? we can’t – we will try anything – but it falls on deaf ears.

      • No one enforces the law, because they’re too lazy to do their jobs. Or they’re taking payoffs from the lawbreakers to look the other way.

  10. The biggest issue with increasing hotel and B&B space as a “solution” to short-term home rentals is that it doesn’t actually solve the real problems.
    There is a demand for non-hotel, non-BnB independent room and apartment rentals. Adding more hotel rooms doesn’t change this. People have been renting apartments and rooms in residential homes short-term for decades in other places, and there is a proportion of travelers who *prefer* that. (As a personal example- I thoroughly enjoyed a recent family trip where we rented a cabin for a few nights in an area near the Smoky Mountains. In other places, people rent beachfront villas for 10 days, city apartments for a week, rooms in an owner-occupied European castle for a night… it’s not the same as a hotel or BnB experience!)
    Adding more of the type of lodging these travelers DON’T want doesn’t solve the demand problem.
    Also, there is a lot of interest by locals in operating short-term rentals. Continuing to not allow them doesn’t solve that problem (the desire to supply this particular type of lodging), either.

    A reasonable solution is regulation and creating a legal path to allowing some short-term rentals.
    I’m all for regulations such as limiting the number of short-term rentals in a particular block or neighborhood, requiring licensing for that specific category of lodging, limiting the number of days per year that someone can transiently rent a room or property, etc.
    These are *actual* solutions to the real stated problems.
    Problem with too many transient rentals on a block?- legalize them and limit them to 1 or 2 per block or per square mile.
    Problem with loud and obnoxious guests in residential areas?- require owners to live onsite if they’re renting a room and hold owner-resident responsible for local noise/trash/whatever violations.

    Trying to pretend like “oh, nobody wants to rent a room as their optimal vacation experience” or “there’s nobody who prefers renting an apartment for a 14-day stay in a city instead of staying in a hotel” is completely ignoring an actual problem with lodging in the city.

    • Getting a B&B license does not require that a homeowner operate in any particular fashion – people who are currently renting rooms in their houses through air bnb could do it exactly the same way they are currently doing it illegally – I think the real problem is that these people don’t want to bother to do the little bit it takes to become legal, nor do they want to be bothered to maintain the records necessary to remit the proper taxes.

    • Ailuri,

      >>There is a demand for non-hotel, non-BnB independent room and apartment rentals.<<

      I don't believe that any significant part of the lodging market insists on not using a hotel or a bed and breakfast. Even assuming some people don't like hotels, why would they prefer renting out a room in somebody's house as opposed to a bed and breakfast? Bed and breakfasts are generally based in a home in a residential neighborhood with the innkeepers living on site. I'm having difficulty seeing any significant difference between that and living in a back bedroom somebody rents out (aside from the obvious desire to save money).

      Renting out an entire home, I'll concede, is another matter. I do understand people renting out homes as vacation rentals and people preferring to have run of the entire property. It might be a good idea to have a carve-out for that. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not opposed to the notion of limiting and strictly regulating transient rentals — but what we're seeing now is an artificial shortage of lodging in the most select parts of town, and the illegal transient rental market is picking up the slack. The notion that Airbnb isn't competing with hotels and traditional bed and breakfasts just doesn't wash.

  11. This city is great for passing ordinances that they never enforce anyway. Nothing will ever change for the better until the resident voters and taxpayers force the city to take more interest in their well-being than it does in tourists.

  12. I have read all the comments and felt one important aspect was overlooked. Lets take tourists out of the equation for a moment and focus on who is being displaced from these rental units. It is our families and residents. Many of them work in the service industry making minimum wage. Think about who cleans all those hotel rooms, washes all the dishes and serves the tourists. It is our working poor who are already struggling to make ends meet in this city. When a landlord can earn $100-$500 a night on a rental….why would they bother with a $1000 monthly rental?

    I see the changes happening in the Freret area where there are at least 1 dozen rentals within 2 blocks of my home ranging from $25-$600 per night. This will start impacting the fact that our residents can no longer afford to live in this area. Without the residents of NOLA, no one will have an “authentic NOLA” experience. It is our neighbors that watch out for each other and have a continued presence in the community. We cannot count on transient renters to help when an elderly neighbor needs assistance.
    Finally, “By this summer, Airbnb will usurp the InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide as the world’s largest hotel chain–without owning a single hotel. The startup, which allows users to rent out their spare rooms or vacant homes to strangers, surpassed 10 million stays on its platform last year, doubled its listings to 550,000 (in 192 countries), and, according to a source familiar with the company’s business, tripled revenue to an estimated $250 million.” (Fast Company), understand that airbnb is a corporate power that will flex in our area. Will we succumb?

    • I am having such a hard time understanding how “Air BNB will usurp…250 million” which is clearly based on a business model that is ILLEGAL in most places it operates has become the darling of the financial world. All of their claims to the contrary notwithstanding (or maybe ‘withstanding,’) do they not handle the money for these transactions??? Does that not make them a major participant in illegal activities??? Please help me understand how this flies.

  13. To Mr. C: Spot on Good job!
    To opposition: Sorry, this is NOT a personal attack- but your arguments painfully show a lack of Urban Planning knowledge, experience, and empathy to understand what’s selfishly wrong and what’s at stake.
    Like San Francisco and other desirable Port Cities- property values are cycling out the family affordable to buy, rent, and raise the kids needed to grow a healthy and diverse tax base. NOT JUST FOR TOURISTS!! or out of state investors to buy in and rent out.
    My solution: Shut them down NOW!!!! Then get all to the table to find solutions using JJ logic – http://www.pps.org/reference/jjacobs-2/
    Another? legalize, license, and tax STR’s through a regulated system of privatized property management firms- they carry the extra insurance, get the 3am calls, and can levy fines.
    Lastly- don’t forget bad behavior during Mardi Gras- STR = bad behavior- with more renters and less teachers on “it’s a marathon, not a sprint…”
    Keep up the good works Owen!!!
    and Best from Freret Street,

    Andy Brott

    • Owen, your articles are usually well thought out and reasoned, but this is a major exception with all of the hyperbola you spouted off from the title of the article to the content.

      There is no AirB&B invasion and most transient renters are great folks who are pleasant temporary neighbors. The other portrait of awful guests ruining neighborhoods are trumped up tails by the lodging and B&B industry simply to protect an investment.

      When I travel with my family we almost always book through VRBO or similar sites for reasons that you apparently do not understand. With two young children having multiple bedrooms with a living room and KITCHEN are huge for us. Yes, I could get the same type of amenities though a suite at a hotel; however, the rate I would pay would be double the cost of a home. I recently spent a week in a beach town in Florida at a private home that was amazing and no hotel could have compared to what we got.

      As for B&B’s they lack the privacy that I desire as we tried that route, but were just not comfortable sharing a home with strangers and our kids. Not to mention that only one of the B&B’s I have stayed in in New Orleans ever had the cleanliness one should expect, yet all but one of the VRBO condos and homes I have stayed in have been immaculate.

      Doesn’t the City have more pressing issues (crime, poverty, education, infrastructure needs) to deal with than this?

      With that said, I do agree that the City Council should open up more lodging development and that the cost of living for the workers in New Orleans is something that should be addressed; however, stopping AirBnB or VRBO will have absolutely no impact on the cost of living. This isn’t an issue unique to New Orleans though as most resort communities and tourist destinations have these issues.

      • your comment that “The other portrait of awful guests ruining neighborhoods are trumped up tails by the lodging and B&B industry simply to protect an investment.” is beyond insulting. I LIVE WITH THE PROBLEM. The “short-term” rentals rent the house out to a “couple” – but advertise that they can sleep 14. They rent the whole house out – 25 arrive and have a “bachelor party” or a “college reunion” party. They have rented a “party house”. Their intent is to run wild. That is why they rented “the whole house”. They are drunk, obnoxious, vomit on my shrubbery, set off car alarms all night, play guitar on the front porch, they have taxis honking at midnight as they trudge off to the quarter and come back at 4 am to “party on dude”. If this happened across the street from you – you would be pissed. I did not buy in the quarter – I did not buy next to a frat house – I did not buy next to a music bar. I bought a house in a nice neighborhood. Why would me wanting to sleep after midnight be considered “selfish”. Can I send them to your house next time so you can share in the “fun”?

        • I have no doubt that there are instances of such abuse, but to paint with such a broad brush is silly as I believe it is the exception and not the rule. I actually live next to a house that has constant issues of the exact nature that you describe from long term tenants. They just happen to be really undesirable long term tenants to be neighbors with. Do I think that all tenants should be painted with that same broad brush? Nope. Not all tourists abuse as you have described and in my experience those that seek out VRBO type homes outside of the quarter are usually very desirable and respectful tenants. I also believe that as time goes the demand for these type of whole house rentals is going to continue to grow (it is the only way to travel with my family for me going forward) so rather than just ignoring the trend (something NOLA does tragically well – does anyone recycle in NOLA?) pass sensible regulation and ENFORCE it. However, the existing regulations are not sensible and not enforceable.

  14. Craig,

    I think more high-rise hotels in the CBD would certainly be welcome, but also smaller hotels and traditional BnBs. All the government needs to do is loosen the reins a bit.

  15. Well … I just found this piece while googling around to find out what one can do about an unwanted AirBnB as a neighbor. The condo above ours changed owners two months ago. The new owners didn’t make much of an effort to introduce themselves, but I was woken about 2 or 3 weeks ago by really loud noises from above. I didn’t think much of it, but the same thing happened again, two nights in a row. First the loud chatter of several people returning home at 2:30 AM and then loud shouting, laughing and partying upstairs until 5 AM. I grew suspicious, and sure enough I found the condo listed on AirBnB. Obviously, we’re frustrated as hell and have complained to the owners. They said they’d take care of it. There hasn’t been too much noise since that incident, but I’m on edge just thinking about it. My husband did let the City know about it, but I don’t know what good that might do or not do. Now that 8 months have passed since this article was written – do we have any new knowledge on what frustrated neighbors can do?

  16. How about this “govt regulation” you seem so fond of, regulate the criminals who are shooting and robbing every single night in New Orleans, before worrying about regulating what I do with a property I own?

  17. The real answer is to require that the rental be owner occupied and not allow it to become a multple unit busines. It should still be licensed and taxed. It has become a major business in many places rather than a nice way for homeowners to augment income.
    And I truly do not understand how Airbnb can advertise rentals in a city in which it is illegal.

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