NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The noise, the traffic, not knowing who's in your neighborhood are just some of the concerns for Justin Irwin, who lives in a normally quiet Uptown location. He describes the Joseph Street property next door a mini hotel.
"It's just constant. There might be three people tonight. It might be five people tomorrow. It might be 10 to 15 people on the weekend," Irwin said.
That's because the owners advertise the "Uptown Jewel three blocks from the street car" online as a vacation rental.
The listing details two separate furnished units with kitchens that sleep 10 people for $700 a night with a minimum three-night stay. For one unit, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend adds up to $2,100 plus two fees, one for cleaning and a refundable damage deposit. Under taxes, it said zero.
"The problem is, you know, I take care of my grandmother, and I work full-time, so when I come home, you know, I just wanna be able to sleep at night, and I don't have a problem with it until after 10," Irwin said. "The problem is these people go out, and they come back after drinking and they wanna hang out here and continue the party."
The city says the owners of this large Uptown duplex are breaking the law because it's illegal to rent property in New Orleans for less than 30 days. The city says it issued the owners a zoning violation letter in April of last year for allegedly operating a short-term rental, but that hasn't stopped them. Multiple reviews posted on
show visitors enjoyed the property on short stays several times this year.
FOX 8 reached out to the owners via email through the listing and by phone. One of the owners, according to the Orleans assessor's website, is Perrine Chaumont. When asked, she said the property is rented monthly but had no further comment.
These owners aren't alone. A quick search online turns up hundreds of other illegal short-term rentals. Many believe the industry isn't going away, and one option getting tossed around includes legalizing it, but also regulating it.
"I believe we should regulate it. We should harness the dollars," said New Orleans City Council Member At-large Stacy Head. "We should make sure that we get few or none of the negatives and as many of the positives as possible. That's what I'm trying to do with a hybrid set of regulations."
Head says she hopes to reconvene discussions on a draft ordinance this summer that was circulated earlier this year.
The Facebook page for the group Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity stresses "short-term rentals should be regulated not banned." There's even an online push for people to sign a petition to legalize the effort.
"From a hotelier standpoint, we're just asking for a fair playing field," said Kerry Ranson. He's the president and CEO of Expotel Hospitality Services, which represents major franchise companies that own and operate hotels in Louisiana and across the country. He's just back from Washington, D.C., where he discussed illegal vacation rentals that - unlike hotels - don't have to pass inspections for safe, clean and secure environments for guests.
"You start talking fire inspections, sprinkler inspections - all those pieces that come into things that we do for consumer safety that none of these folks that are doing it now have to to," Ranson said. "It affects us, but it affects us from the standpoint of, if we're gonna add inventory. Let's do it the same way you would require anyone else that's gonna come and build a housing facility that's gonna be rentable per night."
Councilwoman Head's draft ordinance addresses loud behavior, for example, after 10 p.m.
"This ordinance is intended to make sure within an hour - 24 hours a day - within one hour, you can call a number that is listed on the house that is being rented and get a response from the owner or someone who is responsible," Head said. "Number two, only a certain number of people can stay per bedroom. Number three - and I think this one is the most important things for the beginning of harnessing or dealing with this new industry is - I hope to allow it legally at least at first and with a lower level of regulation and a lower fee structure for owner-occupied properties where they have homestead exemptions," Stacy said.
For Justin Irwin, change can't happen soon enough.
"I've talked to safety and permits - several people from safety and permits," he said. "We don't know who's in our neighborhood. My grandmother's at home all day by herself. You got two schools right across the street."