New Orleans Tried to Control Vacation Rentals With a Lottery. 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 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 briefly halted by a federal decide in August. As town awaits a remaining resolution, short-term leases in New Orleans have been left in limbo. The metropolis has mentioned it’s not accepting functions for the short-term rental licenses it requires hosts to have, neither is it renewing current ones. And, till the court docket makes a remaining ruling, the lottery balls have stopped spinning and town has halted enforcement of its newest licensing guidelines.

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

Like many standard vacationer cities internationally, New Orleans has numerous short-term rental listings. On Airbnb alone, there have been practically 7,000 listings in early September—the vast majority of which have been whole-home or short-term leases, based on Inside Airbnb, a housing advocacy group that tracks Airbnb information. 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 on the variety of listings to plummet.

The common lease for an condo in New Orleans is round $1,350 per thirty days, however the common value per evening of an Airbnb within the metropolis is $198 per evening, based on Inside Airbnb. That’s practically $6,000 per thirty days if booked every evening. 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 up to now month.

Dawn Wheelahan, an lawyer representing these suing New Orleans over the lottery regulation, disputes the concept town has too many Airbnbs. In a court docket doc that makes use of metropolis information, 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.