New Orleans Tried to Control Short-Term Rentals With a Lottery System. It Was a Mess

In the battle to manage short-term leases, New Orleans had a novel thought—it could maintain a lottery. The plan was easy: Carve up town into blocks and use a hand-cranked lottery machine to attract numbers, permitting one rental property per residential block. For the winners, the prize was a license to maintain itemizing their property on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo. For the losers, despair.

But the controversial guidelines, enacted in March 2023, led to only one lottery earlier than being quickly halted by a federal decide in August. As town awaits a closing resolution, short-term leases in New Orleans have been left in limbo. The metropolis has stated it’s now not accepting purposes for the short-term rental licenses it requires hosts to have, neither is it renewing present ones. And, till the courtroom makes a closing ruling, the lottery balls have stopped spinning and town has halted enforcement of its newest licensing guidelines.

The limbo stems from an ongoing lawsuit towards town from a short-term rental companies firm and a gaggle of hosts who have been unable to even enter the lottery as a consequence of slender licensing guidelines.

Like many well-liked vacationer cities internationally, New Orleans has lots of short-term rental listings. On Airbnb alone, there have been practically 7,000 listings in early September—nearly all of which have been whole-home or short-term leases, in accordance with Inside Airbnb, a housing advocacy group that tracks Airbnb knowledge. That’s about one itemizing for each 54 residents. By comparability, New York City had one Airbnb itemizing for each 220 residents earlier than it enacted a sweeping regulation that brought about the variety of listings to plummet.

The common lease for an residence in New Orleans is round $1,350 per 30 days, however the common worth per night time of an Airbnb within the metropolis is $198 per night time, in accordance with Inside Airbnb. That’s practically $6,000 per 30 days if booked every night time. Officials say there are practically 9,000 short-term rental listings in New Orleans, although town didn’t reply questions from WIRED about the way it tracks that quantity. More than 200 of these have been added prior to now month.

Dawn Wheelahan, an legal professional representing these suing New Orleans over the lottery regulation, disputes the concept town has too many Airbnbs. In a courtroom doc that makes use of metropolis knowledge, Wheelahan mapped which blocks would have a number of short-term rental candidates, and located most solely had one applicant, whereas greater than 50 blocks had three or 4 candidates and just one block had 5 candidates. “I just don’t see that there’s any proliferation” of short-term leases, Wheelahan claims.