IC Urges Delay on New Orleans Short Term Rental Ban

May 23, 2018

Honorable Jason Roger Williams, President
New Orleans City Council 
City Hall
1300 Perdido Street
New Orleans, LA 70112

RE: Please Vote No or Delay Vote on Motion 18-185 to Ban Short Term Rentals and Motion 18-194, to Repeal the Short-Term Rental Study

Dear City Council President Williams:

I am the executive director of the Internet Coalition (IC), a national trade association that represents members in state public policy discussions.  The IC also serves as an informational resource, striving to protect and foster the Internet economy and the benefits it provides consumers.  Members include companies such as 1-800-Flowers, Amazon, Expedia, Experian, Facebook, FTD, Google, HomeAway, Interactive Corp., Match.com and Oath (formerly Yahoo!).

I am writing to express opposition to Motion 18-185, a motion that would ban the issuance of two types of licenses for short-term rentals (STRs) in many popular neighborhoods.  I am also opposed to Motion 18-194, a motion that would repeal a STR study just weeks away from a report of findings about the effects of STRs.

An STR ban would adversely impact consumers and reduce tourism in New Orleans.  This would hurt your community as hosting families would lose income, local businesses would see a loss in sales due to reduced tourism which means less state and local taxes being collected and remitted.

STR platform companies such as HomeAway, VRBO, Airbnb, and Booking.com connect homeowners and hosts with travelers that are seeking unique lodging opportunities in New Orleans and thousands of cities across the world.

The majority travelers who opt to rent homes are families and those looking for an extended stay. On average, STR bookings are five or more days longer than what they would have booked to stay in a hotel.  Short-term renters find that booking STR houses from online platforms allow them to search for the most affordable vacation homes and find unique or special options.  Specialized customers typically can not afford to book similar accommodations with traditional hotels and otherwise would be forced to cancel their trip entirely without STR options.

Here are some points to consider before delaying or voting NO to an STR ban and STR study repeal:

  • The council should wait for the results of the current study before considering any major changes. The report is due in six weeks.
  • Adopting any bans or regulations of STRs without first properly studying the facts is ill-advised and is not sound public policy development.
  • Bans on home sharing deprive people of their fundamental right to safely use their property as they see fit and punish people for exercising their free speech rights to
  • share information. Learn more at: http://goldwaterinstitute.org/en/home-sharing/
  • According to a 2016 HomeAway poll of customers, 70 percent of vacation rental owners use the extra money they make renting out their homes to pay their entire mortgage, while nationwide HomeAway customers said they paid half of their mortgage off.   
  • One quarter of those surveyed by HomeAway said they planned to use the extra money to pay for their child’s education. 
  • Rather than risk losing their home or not being able to afford child education, owners will be forced to rent their homes out secretly or underground.   

Consumers that receive affordable accommodations that fit their needs will likely spend the extra money while traveling. Visitors support the local economy by shopping, eating out, renting and fueling cars, and paying for local attractions.  The whole STR situation benefits everyone, but especially the local businesses and government.  Businesses are better suited to make payroll, create new jobs, pay their bills and pay more in taxes.  New Orleans and the state of Louisiana reaps the benefits of additional tourism and sales taxes with STRs.  

Please realize that STRs provide an unprecedented opportunity for homeowners, small businesses and communities to thrive economically.  Therefore, I encourage you to embrace a reasonably regulated market that protects the property rights and economic vitality of all homeowners, helping New Orleans reach its full potential as the most vibrant tourist destination in Louisiana.

For the reasons explained above, I urge you to vote NO or delay a vote on Motion 18-185, banning STRs and Motion 18-194, which would repeal the current STR study.  Instead, I ask that you please wait to institute new regulations until the current study is completed and then after hearing from stakeholders about impact and alternatives to an STR ban and how it would adversely impact renters, local homeowners and local businesses, and would erode the tourism industry. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like to speak to one of my members individually.