Rental regulations need enforcement, scrutiny

Daniel Horowitz, Associate Views Editor

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This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Hullabaloo. 

The New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that will implement landmark short-term rental regulations on Oct. 20. In New Orleans, short-term rentals have become a controversial concept among citizens. While they certainly help boost the tourism industry, they could also harm the cultures of local neighborhoods if New Orleans residents do not inhabit the homes.

With this new ordinance in place, it is paramount that the city carefully ensures its enforcement can help the tourism industry in New Orleans while also protecting the citizens who live here year-round.

Short-term rentals have changed the dynamic of tourism. They allow people to avoid hotels by temporarily staying in someone’s home. Companies like Airbnb and HomeAway have given people an outlet to both rent their homes to others and rent someone else’s home.

Short-term rental companies are a great benefit to visitors, but they seem to pose a threat to some communities, especially in New Orleans. New Orleanians living in the Marigny and Bywater claim that their neighborhoods have fallen victim to gentrification in the city, and short-term rentals will continue to destroy the original culture of their homes. If left up to these citizens, short-term rentals would likely not be allowed in New Orleans.

The ordinance passed by the city council legalized whole-home rentals in New Orleans. Each property can be rented out for 90 days of the year, and short-term rentals are mostly banned in the French Quarter.

Tulane Political Science Professor Mirya Holman believes that this ordinance was mostly a compromise. She added that the members of the city council and the community did what they could to construct an equitable and efficient policy on short-term rentals.

“I actually think that the element of taxation really plays into this being an enforceable policy,” Holman said when asked how the city would be able to enforce the new ordinance in a fair way.

The revenue the city will bring in tax revenue from Airbnb and other short-term rental firms exceeds enforcement costs, making it likely that these regulations will be monitored closely.

Even though many citizens oppose legalizing the presence of short-term rental companies, having this option is better than the black market of rentals that have appeared in other cities. Holman explained how Airbnb and other similar companies have policies that protect the renters and the tenants that may not be guaranteed with informal rentals, like those found on Craigslist.

Other cities, such as New York and San Francisco, have attempted to implement short-term regulation, which has proven ineffective. New Orleans benchmarked cities like these and formed this new policy accordingly.

If the city wants this ordinance to succeed, it needs to ensure that they are not neglecting the needs of the local citizens for the needs of tourists. With rigorous enforcement, this new ordinance could serve as an example of a sufficient short-term rental policy for other cities.

Daniel Horowitz is a student at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]