RIVER RIDGE, La. (WVUE) - This is the first carnival season Cheri Ben-Iesau doesn’t have extra guests at her River Ridge home.
“It was a lot of fun. It’s not for everybody,” Ben-Iesau said. “I like to talk. I want to know where you’re from and it was great for me, but it’s not for everybody. Not everybody wants a stranger in their house.”
For the last four years, Ben-Iesau rented out her home to short-term tenants to make extra cash. But that officially stopped Friday (Feb. 22), when Jefferson Parish started enforcing its short-term rental ban.
“I am a retired veteran and when the ban went into effect, I lost 25 percent of my income right there,” Ben-Iesau said.
The parish council banned all rentals lasting under 30 days last year. They also gave renters a year-long grace period before the ban went into effect. Despite this, Catherine Toppel, the Jefferson Parish Property Maintenance Director, said people are still operating short-term rentals.
“Actually, we're in the process of investigating and issuing violations to those that are still operating," Toppel said. "We spend a lot of time on each individual property that we find potentially which could be by complaint, it could be something that we find on our own."
Toppel said her team combs through websites like Airbnb and VRBO daily. When they find someone breaking the rules,Toppel said homeowners are issued a citation and given 10 days to pull down any short-term rental advertisements for their property.
"At the end of that 10 days and we investigate again,” said Toppel. “If they're still in violation, we would forward this to either First Parish Court on the East Bank or Second parish Court on the West Bank."
Toppel said a judge could fine violators up to $500 a day. Meanwhile, homeowners like Ben-Iesau said they believe things have gone too far and a compromise should be made.
"We need to come to the table again talk about an equitable middle ground and some rules we can all live with," said Ben-Iesau.
Cities like Gretna and Kenner, with their own jurisdictions are not including in the parish-wide ban.