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

In the combat to control short-term leases, New Orleans had a novel thought—it might maintain a lottery. The plan was easy: Carve up the 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 choose in August. As the town awaits a closing resolution, short-term leases in New Orleans have been left in limbo. The metropolis has mentioned 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 the town has halted enforcement of its newest licensing guidelines.

The limbo stems from an ongoing lawsuit towards the town from a short-term rental providers firm and a bunch of hosts who have been unable to even enter the lottery on account of slender licensing guidelines.

Like many in style vacationer cities internationally, New Orleans has a variety of short-term rental listings. On Airbnb alone, there have been almost 7,000 listings in early September—the vast majority of which have been whole-home or short-term leases, in keeping 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 hire for an residence in New Orleans is round $1,350 monthly, however the common value per evening of an Airbnb within the metropolis is $198 per evening, in keeping with Inside Airbnb. That’s almost $6,000 monthly if booked every evening. Officials say there are almost 9,000 short-term rental listings in New Orleans, although the 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 that the 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.