Short-term rental rules remain in limbo during Carnival season in New Orleans – FOX 8 Local First

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The owners of short-term rental properties in New Orleans are still in limbo as a federal court decision on their future has been pending since December.

The New Orleans City Council passed new regulations on non-commercial short-term rentals last year, after their previous ordinance barring out-of-state owners entirely was struck down by a federal appeals court.

Following the court decision, the council voted and approved new measures in March 2023, including one limiting the number of short-term rentals to three per city square, which can include more than one street.

Short-term rental owners would be put into a lottery to determine who gets the short-term rental on a block where more than one person has applied for a permit.

But those restrictions also have come under legal scrutiny.

Last fall, a federal judge temporarily halted enforcement of the city’s regulations that imposed limits on short-term rentals, until a final ruling is made.

“I hope they can find a way for small, mom-and-pop operators to survive this, because it’s important,” said one resident who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation.

The man lives in Mid-City and says he moved to New Orleans in the 1970s and bought his home in the ‘90s.

With his children now grown, he said he and his wife renovated space inside their home to rent out short-term. He said the extra income generated goes toward ever-increasing property taxes, insurance costs and his mortgage.

“Driving me out of my house isn’t doing the city any favor,” he said. “I hear what happens down in the Marigny and the Bywater, with people buying eight-bedroom houses and throwing weddings every month. I completely agree something should be done about that.

“Apparently, they can’t seem to write the law properly.”

He said he and others continue to rent out their spaces for Carnival and Mardi Gras. The city currently is barred by federal Judge Ivan Lemelle from enforcing restrictions on STRs or issuing new permits.

“We’re sympathetic to all we hear, with the big outfits from out of town owning houses and having huge events and things like that. We’re completely opposite,” the homeowner said.

“We’re long-term homeowners. And we’re at the point right now — my wife’s retired and I’m getting closer — and it’s a 100-year-old house. It has to be maintained, my insurance has tripled, my taxes are higher, my flood insurance has gone through the roof. I think there’s a lot of folks like us. We’re mom-and-pop operations.”

Councilmembers have signaled their intention to move forward with a measure to ban all non-commercial STRs in New Orleans’ neighborhoods if Lemelle rules against their initial ordinance.

“We’d prefer to see a strategy that balances the market,” said Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA. “We know that people want to be able to do short-term rentals inside of their own homes to be able to address insurance, the spike in the property taxes that are happening.

“That’s a balancing act that we just have not managed to pull off.”

Morris said she would prefer the council move forward with an outright ban of short-term rentals, including those in commercial areas, if laws allowing local mom-and-pop ownership can’t be worked out.

“Our failure to create laws that we can actually enforce just frustrates the community and tells them that this is impossible, when that’s not true,” she said. “We need our policy makers to stop playing games. Stop making commitments and undermining them. Part of the reason the policies don’t survive judicial scrutiny is they contradict themselves.”

It remains unclear when Lemelle’s ruling will be made.

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