The New Orleans City Council just unanimously voted to place heavy restrictions on short-term rentals throughout the city. Here’s what it means for travelers.
Following a purge of 80 percent of Airbnb listings in Japan and an outright ban in Palma de Mallorca last year, New Orleans is also cracking down on short-term rentals that many residents believe are increasing property taxes and eroding the character of historic neighborhoods. On Thursday, the New Orleans City Council voted 7-0 to heavily restrict Airbnb and other rentals throughout the city.
Here’s what travelers need to know before their next trip to New Orleans.
Are Airbnb and other short-term rentals entirely banned?
Not exactly. As of December 1, 2019, short-term rentals of whole houses that are not occupied by the owners will be banned. The restrictions also cap the number of short-term rentals to 25 percent of units in new commercially-zoned properties and outright ban all short-term rentals in the Garden District and most in the French Quarter. Per city laws passed in December 2016, short-term rentals are still allowed in the French Quarter in the Vieux Carré Entertainment (VCE) zoning district, which is the six blocks of Bourbon Street between Iberville and Orleans Streets.
New requirements will put the burden of enforcing these new restrictions on Airbnb, Homeaway, Vrbo, and other rental sites to remove any listings that violate the new rules, nola.com reports. Anyone with a rental booked in New Orleans on any of these sites after December 1, 2019, should reach out directly to the host to find out whether or not their reservation is affected by the new restrictions. If your host must cancel your reservation, you will automatically receive a full refund.
Airbnb loyalists will still be able to rent rooms in New Orleans, as long as the homeowner is also there. There will also be exceptions made for people who own multiple units on one property. For example, if a person owns a townhouse with four separate units and only lives in one, they may apply for short-term rental permits to rent out the other three on Airbnb.
What is the general reaction in New Orleans?
The vote was met with applause from locals who attended the city council meeting.
“I have lost a lot of neighbors in the last few years,” college professor Helen Regis told council members before the vote, pointing out that she believes her neighborhood has been harmed by the proliferation of such rentals.
But not everyone supports the ban.
“While this vote provides much needed regulatory certainty for home sharing in New Orleans, the rules unfairly punish responsible short-term rental hosts who are contributing to the local economy,” Laura Spanjian, senior public policy director at Airbnb, said in an emailed statement. “We are committed to working closely with the City of New Orleans and the Airbnb community as these new rules are implemented.”
Expedia Group, the parent company of similarly affected home rental sites Vrbo and HomeAway, issued a statement calling the restrictions “shortsighted.”
Any tips for where to stay in New Orleans now?
Fortunately, several new hotels opened within the last year throughout the city so travelers who have relied on Airbnb in the past still have plenty of options in a variety of neighborhoods. Atelier Ace’s Maison de la Luz opened in April inside an old City Hall annex directly across from the Ace Hotel in the Central Business District. Over in the Marigny, Hotel Peter and Paul gave new life to a 19th-century church, schoolhouse, rectory, and convent that was repurposed last fall into 71 hotel rooms and a cozy aperitif bar from the team behind Bacchanal. Those hoping to stay in the Garden District can check in to one of the 18 rooms at the Henry Howard Hotel that opened in 2016 in a 150-year-old mansion designed by the famed New Orleans architect Henry Howard.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article. This story was originally published on August 9, 2019; it was updated to include a full statement from Airbnb and clarification where short-term rentals are allowed in the French Quarter.
>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to New Orleans