Homes for People, Not for Profit: Reform STR Laws in New Orleans
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An estimated 100,000 New Orleanians have been displaced since 2005, and those who have been able to return face increasing housing insecurity as City decisions prioritize tourists, turning what was or could have been homes into temporary lodging for visitors and driving up housing costs for renters and homeowners alike. The City’s currently permissive approach to STR regulation encourages absentee landlords to acquire as many units of housing as is within their means in order to profit by renting them to tourists. Coupled with weak tenant protection laws and the underfunding of affordable housing development, the current STR policy both threatens to unravel the cultural fabric of New Orleans and presents an opportunity for the new mayoral administration and City Council to take decisive steps toward addressing the housing crisis.
STR regulations must be amended to prevent further corrosion of residential neighborhoods by STRs and to facilitate housing access and affordability for residents, and beyond city government, institutions and residents, particularly those in the cultural and hospitality sectors, must take an active stand against the unbridled conversion of housing into tourist lodging.
By supporting this petition, you are supporting these reforms to New Orleans' current STR regulations:
1. Require permits for STR platforms.
The City must require that STR platforms obtain permits in order to list rentals in New Orleans, similar to those already required for Uber and other ride-sharing platforms. Permit terms must include an agreement by STR platforms to reinforce City’s operator regulations by:
Removing all unlicensed STR listings
Requiring that STR operators provide license numbers in order to list property
Sharing operator identity and address and STR address with the City
Sharing any complaint the platform receives regarding discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status with the City
STR platforms will face fines for non-compliance.
2. Streamline the data-sharing process across platforms.
As discussed under “Single Operator, Multiple Listings,” the current monthly data-sharing process allows STR platforms to organize anonymized operator data in whatever way each platform sees fit, making it impossible for the City to cross-check listings to ensure that they are in compliance with regulations. The City must streamline the data-sharing process so that all permitted platforms are submitting the same types of data in the same format each month. Data for each STR listing must include:
STR license number
Operator name, address, and demographics
Number of rental nights in the calendar month and cumulatively since licensing
Any complaint that the platform received from STR guests
3. One host, one home.
Only New Orleans residents, as verified through Homestead Exemption, should be eligible to receive STR licenses, and eligible applicants can receive no more than one whole-home license. This prevents opportunistic individuals and companies from buying or leasing dozens of homes to convert them into tourist lodging. Requiring a homestead exemption will benefit New Orleanians who are indeed just renting out their spare rooms or rental properties to supplement their income as they will not have to compete with large-scale operators for guests. Operators will be penalized for non-compliance.
4. Ease into compliance.
STR operators should be granted a six-month grace period to come into compliance following the City’s implementation of the aforementioned recommendations. After that six months, STRs operating without a homestead exemption will be unable to renew their licenses, and once those licenses expire, they will be penalized if they are found to be operating unlicensed STRs.
5. Expand support for affordable housing.
The City’s current policy states that $1 per night per Airbnb booking is being set aside for affordable housing development, but that is an inadequate amount of funding to support the development of housing. Airbnb’s report on funds turned over to the City stated that, between January 1 and September 30, 2017, only $230,000 in funding for affordable housing was generated - enough for one unit of housing to be produced. The City must require that STR platforms include a 15% fee into their pricing to address New Orleans’ ongoing housing crisis.
To learn more about how STRs are impacting housing, please go to www.jpnsi.org and download our report, Short-Term Rentals, Long-Term Impacts: The Corrosion of Housing Access and Affordability in New Orleans
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