The website AirBNB allows property owners and leasers to list their homes and apartments for short term rental. Recent press and blogosphere coverage has discussed the proliferation of this service and the convenience it provides to visitors to the city looking for a hotel alternative and residents who want to earn a separate income stream. It’s even a topic I’ve discussed before. If you’re interested in renting out your property, the city provides a quick primer, but does not cite the sources. Here’s a run-down.
To understand the city’s bed and breakfast laws, we need to start with the definitions of a bed and breakfast in the city’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). So, what is considered to be a “bed and breakfast”? A “bed and breakfast” is defined as “an owner-occupied residential structure, originally constructed as either a single-family or a two-family structure that is easily converted to a single-family structure, which provides sleeping rooms for overnight paid occupancy of up to seven (7) nights.”
There are variants on the different structures seen and permitted throughout the city. For example, there are bed and breakfast family homes, which are limited to no more than 2 sleeping rooms, and bed and breakfast guest homes, that are equipped with 3 to 5 sleeping rooms; subject to a current certificate of liability insurance posted on the premises. Bed and breakfast historic homes contain between 3 and 9 sleeping rooms and are subject to approval by the Historic District Landmarks Commission, at least 3,000 square feet in size and a minimum of 50 years old. Bed and breakfast inns, which can contain as many as 9 sleeping rooms, but do not necessarily have to have historic value, are limited to commercial and neighborhood business districts.
Therefore, assuming you own your home and want to rent a room, you will need to determine your zoning and whether or not a bed and breakfast is a permitted or conditional use in your zoning area. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. Note that this CZO is currently being updated and should become law in summer 2014, so while your zoning may change to allow you to open bed and breakfast, the owner occupancy requirement remains in the current draft. You can determine your property’s zoning by using the New Orleans zoning look up tool.
The city’s Municipal code provides additional guidance on costs. First, anyone seeking to rent property for less than 30 days (or 60 days in the French Quarter) is required to have a permit. The fee for a bed and breakfast with 1 or 2 bedrooms is $200 per year, and the fee for a bed and breakfast rental with 3 to 5 bedrooms is $600 per year. Keep in mind that the actual fees charged by the city may be a bit higher than stated above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I rent my living space from a landlord. Can I sublease my space on AirBNB?
A. No, this practice is prohibited by city law. In order to rent your space, you first need a mayoralty permit. City law requires proof of owner-occupancy in the form of a homestead exemption affidavit before issuing a permit. If you rent your apartment, clearly you won’t be able to claim a homestead exemption.
Q. I purchased a property that I intend to rent exclusively on AirBNB. Is this allowed?
A. No, for the same reason as above. The CZO requires bed and breakfasts to be owner-occupied, so if you don’t live in the house and claim your homestead exemption on the property, you will not receive a permit.
Q. Will I be required to apply for a food service permit to serve meals?
A. No, but in addition to the mayoralty permit required, you will need to apply for a standard business license and submit the usual paperwork to the Bureau of Revenue. The appropriate paperwork is linked on their website.