The number of properties in New Orleans being offered to tourists as short-term rentals has grown at an explosive rate as the practice has spread out from the downriver neighborhoods where it formerly was most common, new data show.
Airbnb, the most prominent player in the local short-term rental market, is now offering about 4,000 properties in the city. About 72 percent of those are entire homes, the type of rentals that have become the major flashpoint as the City Council considers passing new regulations.
Controversy has grown between those who offer their properties for rent and residents who argue the practice has a corrosive effect on neighborhoods, something they say is exacerbated because 42 percent of those rentals are posted by people with multiple listings, meaning they are not simply trying to augment their income by renting out unneeded space but are operating full-fledged businesses.
The data come from InsideAirbnb.com, a website that tracks listings on the short-term rental platform in multiple cities and takes a critical view of its effects on the communities in which it operates. Airbnb itself does not provide raw data on its rentals in the New Orleans area.
The new data show that the number of Airbnb short-term rentals in the city grew by nearly 48 percent between June , when the site first started tracking Airbnb in New Orleans, and February, when 3,621 properties were offered, and the number continues to rise.
While the French Quarter and surrounding areas remain the locations with the most listings, an increasing number of properties in upriver neighborhoods also are being offered for rent.
The new data are likely to further fuel the debate over short-term rentals in the city. Both sides argue that the growth in rentals shows the need for the council to adopt new policies for a practice that now is illegal, though the rules are almost never enforced.
Critics of the rentals want a ban on owners renting out whole houses and apartments in residential areas or at least strict limits on their numbers, while those who offer homes or rooms to visitors want to be allowed to rent as many as they can as long as they pay taxes the same way hotels do.
“These (new) numbers are staggering, and they demonstrate that we’ve got to get a handle on the situation,” said Meg Lousteau, executive director of Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates, who asked InsideAirbnb.com to release its latest round of data.