NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans City Council is poised to approve new regulations on short-term rentals in the city, but some operators say the restrictions will do more harm than good.
“It’s the limit per block, block face, the lottery. It’s the chance that at the drop of a dime they can say ‘nope, I can’t make this income anymore,” Okiema Singleton said. “Then what am I supposed to do? I’m missing $20,000 a year.”
Singleton is a local teacher who rents out part of her house on AirBNB with her husband. She says the money they make from running an STR is essential to raising their six children.
If the City Council’s new restrictions pass, she could lose that money.
Housing advocates we spoke with say that Singleton and the other legal STR operators we spoke with wouldn’t be in this situation if AIRBNB didn’t put them there.
“The truth of the matter is that AirBNB wanted to get rid of the homestead exemption,” Y. Frank Southall with Jane Place said. “So, we have to limit things now and we have to have a weighted lottery to prevent more corporations.”
Southall is an affordable housing advocate Jane Place, who supports the proposed restrictions.
According to research done by Jane Place, 85% of all AirBNB listings in New Orleans are for whole home rentals. Less than 13% of them are for a private room.
Right now, the proposed regulations would limit the number of short-term rentals to one-per-square-block. That means that if a city block has four sides, there can only be one short-term rental operating for all four of those sides.
The problem then becomes that some city blocks already have more than one short-term rental and deciding who gets to keep operating would be left up to a lottery.
“You know, we are very concerned, and we support people renting out rooms in their homes,” Southall said. “So, we hope the lottery will be weighted towards small operators.”
So, while they debate what restrictions to put in place, small operators like Singleton are caught in the crossfire, wondering if they could lose their income in a lottery.
The City Council will consider the new restrictions at their meeting next Thursday, but they have until the end of the month to agree on new rules.