New Orleans small business owner: Short-term rentals help city, ‘shocked’ by potential ban

As a New Orleans resident of the Edgewood Park neighborhood and a member of the neighborhood council, I am very troubled by the proposed ban on whole home Airbnb short-term rentals in the neighborhood. I moved to New Orleans two years ago with my wife and my 2-year-old daughter because we loved the culture and the friendliness of the people. It felt like a neighborhood we could belong to and have a place in.

We bought a house that had been on the market for 340 days and decided to fix this blighted duplex to live in and also host an Airbnb so that we could afford the renovations and have somewhere to host our family to visit.

It turned out the reason this home was on the market for so long was that it had termite damage. It cost me over $200,000 to fix, and Airbnb is helping my wife and I pay that back slowly but surely. We felt this would work because the city had recently passed short-term rental regulations. We followed the law, got our permits and began hosting with strict house rules about the standards visitors have to abide by.

All of our neighbors were happy with us moving in and gave no objections when I notified them that we were running an Airbnb. That is why I was shocked when I heard from the city that permit renewals and licenses were being suspended. Funds from hosting makeup over half my family’s income.

My tax adviser told me that for tax purposes we should put the property under our business name to lower our tax burden. Unlucky for my wife and I, that means that we don’t qualify for accessory permits, despite having a duplex at our primary residence, and we are only allowed to rent out for 90 nights a year, putting severe financial strain on our family.

Since the city thrives on tourism, I’m not sure why it is against letting small families like ours find a way to make a living in our homes that provides visitors with a safe and comfortable space to stay. As a Lyft and Uber driver, I have picked up people staying in motels over an hour away from New Orleans because they couldn’t find a hotel to stay in. Why not open our doors to fill a need in this city?

Read more of this Advocate article by Andres Barcelo by clicking here.