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Guide to Short-Term Rental Permits

As a tourist destination and a port city, New Orleans has always been enriched by—and to an extent, built upon—a constant influx of visitors. The proliferation of short-term rental properties has launched contentious neighborhood debates and ongoing regulation issues, but nobody can deny they serve a real need—and they’re 100 percent legal in New Orleans, as long as you have a valid permit.

So what’s the process for getting a short-term rental permit in the Big Easy? It’s a little complicated, but it’s well worth it for the opportunity to increase your property’s revenue-generating capability—and share that New Orleans hospitality with visitors worldwide.

Pick the right neighborhood

The laws governing short-term rentals vary throughout New Orleans, so choose a neighborhood for your short-term rental with an end goal in mind. Short-term rentals are banned in two New Orleans neighborhoods: the French Quarter (with the exception of a short tract of Bourbon Street) and the Garden District. 

Everywhere else allows for short-term rentals in some capacity. What type of permit your short-term rental is eligible depends on the zoning district where the property is located. The city designates two types of permits: residential and commercial. 

Permit types

Residential permits are for owners who live in the property they’re renting out. These permits are designated partial, small and large. A partial residential permit is for you if you want to rent out a bedroom in your home. A small residential permit is the right choice if you’re renting out a separate unit on your property—a mother-in-law cottage or half of a shotgun double, for example. A large residential permit is for people who live in a multi-unit building with up to four dwelling units—for example, an owner-operator lives in a fourplex and rents three of them out on a short-term basis.

Commercial permits allow owners to rent out “whole-home” units, and owners do not have to live on site. However, commercial permits are restricted to commercial zoned areas, and HOAs might also limit short-term rental capacity. It’s a good idea to consult an attorney when considering investing in a short-term rental property, because the rules can be complicated and are subject to change.

You can also designate a permitted operator if you do not plan to run the short-term rental yourself—for example, if you have a tenant who wants to rent out their extra bedroom on a short-term basis. There is no charge for an operator permit.

The process for getting licensed

Once you’ve figured out what kind of property you want to rent out and how often you want to rent it, the first step is the application process. Read the city’s handbook to short-term rentals and fill out an application. City officials will review your property information, make sure there are no existing code violations, and enforce certain safety protocols (working smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, a floor plan for guests, etc.) If your application is approved, you will be issued a permit and permit number after you pay the annual fee. The cost ranges from $250 for a partial residential permit to $10,000 for a platform permit. Once you have your permit number, you can list your property on short-term rental platforms (most require an active permit number, or properties will be delisted).

Succeeding as a short-term rental operator

Congrats, you have a legal short-term rental. In some ways, the work is over, but in other ways, the work has just begun. The onus of communicating with guests, resolving issues and maintaining and cleaning your property between check-ins falls on you. That labor merits its own post, but whether you live on-site or rent out a CBD condo full-time, property management companies like our own can help ease the workload. 

Need help navigating the short-term rental permitting process? Contact Satsuma Property Management today! If you have any questions about the short-term rental licensing procedure, if you’re looking to invest in a short-term rental, or if you’re a currently licensed short-term rental owner who’s looking for assistance with property management — we’re here to help.

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