New Orleans prepares for short-term rental enforcement

Posted on: November 9 2016

By Greg LaRose, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Owners of short-term rental properties in New Orleans will have until next spring to register with the city, according to a timeline officials reviewed Monday (Nov. 7) with the City Council.

The new Short-Term Rental Administration intends to hire a program manager, four inspectors and two information technology specialists to identify properties and begin the registration process. Jared Munster, director of the city Department of Safety and Permits, told the council he wants to fill those positions next month. He shared details during a hearing on his proposed budget for 2017.

Putting the short-term rules in place will also leads to two additional city hires -- an analyst at One Stop permitting office and another in the Administrative Hearings Bureau, which will handle short-term rental complaints and adjudications.

The City Council still has to craft the rules this new arm of city government will enforce. It established the basic guidelines last month in approving an ordinance with two key categories: accessory rentals, where homeowners offer a room in their house to short-term guests; and whole-home rentals, which are limited to 90 days a year.

Short-term rental websites, such as Airbnb.com and VRBO.com, have pledged to share their local listing data with the city. With that information in hand, Munster said in January the city will reach out to owners to register their properties. Letters sent to owners will contain information about licensing and what the city's new law allows and prohibits, he said.

The city intends to begin licensing short-term rentals in April, assuming the council puts its new rules into effect April 1. If everything sticks to that timeline, in May the Short-Term Rental Administration staff can start comparing its license and property owner information against the data the websites provide. By the middle of the month, the city expects to provide permit numbers to that will be posted on web listings, and adjudications could begin as needed.

The websites are expected to provide data updates on a monthly basis, Munster said.

The Landrieu administration has proposed budgeting $619,000 for its new short-term rental related hires in Safety and Permits, and another $109,000 for operating costs.

Although they're illegal citywide, short-term rentals are abundant in the city. Unofficial counts have placed the number on listing sites as high as 5,000. The ordinance approved last month legalizes them everywhere but the French Quarter, where they are restricted to sites along Bourbon Street.