Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A house is not a motel

Short term rental enforcement is hard work, apparently.  Also there's a lot of it to do.
Websites like airbnb.com and vrbo.com show that there are hundreds of illegal short term rentals on the market in New Orleans.

The phenomenon is destroying neighbors quality of life and changing the fabric of neighborhoods that are primarily residential, said Caron.

“I would say probably one in every eight to 10 houses now is an illegal short term rental or bed and breakfasts,” said Ken Caron, of his Marigny neighborhood.
The problem, though, is building a case against violators given the structure of the regulations.
Currently, the city says it would have to prove that a landlord didn't just advertise the property, but sucessfully rented it out short term over the course of at least a year "non-residents," a term that is not clearly defined.
Based on my own observation I can point to a couple of buildings in my neighborhood that have been "successfully rented out short term over the course of at least a year" but I'm not in the business of turning people in to the cops.. or to their mortgage company.. or to whomever might have some authority.. it's not clear that anybody has much.

In any case my working theory is that the city isn't interested in stopping any of this activity.  From their point of view these are non-blighted properties which they can tax (at a much higher rate soon if things go their way in the legislature) and not have to share the revenue with the several state tourism entities who get most of the hotel/motel tax. 

This vision for New Orleans is ultimately an expensive resort based on around  tourism serving more tourism. Whether or not that's very appealing to us doesn't matter. Fiscal and economic viability from the point of view of the elites is what matters. To the city, it doesn't matter if every house is really a motel.. or if anyone really lives in your neighborhood anymore.

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