Two weeks after New Orleans began accepting applications to legalize short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb and VRBO, hundreds of people have applied, but they still represent only a small fraction of the thousands of such rentals thought to be operating in the city.

As of Friday, the city had received 465 applications to operate short-term rentals since it began taking applications March 13.

Applications may be filed in person at the city's One Stop for Permits and Licenses on the seventh floor of City Hall, 1300 Perdido St., or online at onestopapp.nola.gov. Applicants need to provide numerous attestations or documentations, depending on the type of license they request.

Estimates of the total number of rentals operating in the city vary from 4,000 to 6,000. Even on the low end, that would mean only 12 percent of those offering to rent their property to short-term visitors have signed up, with less than a week to go before the new rules go into effect.

City officials said Friday they don’t expect to receive the bulk of the applications until after the regulations actually go into legal effect on April 1. That's when Airbnb, which signed an agreement with the city, begins allowing hosts to apply for a city license through its site in a process that has been dubbed “pass-through registration.”

“Any attempt to assess the short-term rental application period at this time is premature and speculative,” said Erin Burns, a spokeswoman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The city expects to receive the bulk of its applications in April, when Airbnb provides the list of registrants from their pass-through registration system.

"Airbnb has estimated that there could be as many as 4,000 properties eligible to participate in the pass-through registration.”

While anyone not signed up by April 1 will technically be in violation of the law, the city does not plan to begin actually enforcing the law's provisions until May 15.

Data available on the city’s permitting website provide a glimpse of how the process is going so far, which The New Orleans Advocate is tracking on a page that will be updated daily at http://bit.ly/Advocate-STRs.

The Central Business District has proved to be the most popular area for short-term rental registrations so far, with 46 applications, followed by 33 applications in the Marigny, 31 in Mid-City, 29 in the Fair Grounds neighborhood and 27 in the 7th Ward.

While the French Quarter is among the neighborhoods most densely packed with short-term rentals, the city's new regulations in fact ban such rentals there. That leaves a lone application so far from the Vieux Carre, for a property on Royal Street. That application has not been fully processed, but it will presumably be denied under the city’s rules.

Arguments for legalizing short-term rentals tend to highlight people who rent out a portion of their home — or the entire home a few weeks a year — to help make ends meet or to pay for needed renovations. Opponents typically point to operators who have multiple listings, a sign that they are illegally running full-scale businesses.

More than two dozen people have applied for more than one license. By far, the most prolific so far is Tarun Motwani, who is looking to rent out 20 apartments at 600 Canal St. as commercial rentals, which could be used as full-time hotel rooms.

Another major point of contention in the debate has been whether to allow the rental of entire homes on a short-term basis for several months or more a year — a common practice that opponents argue destabilizes neighborhoods and contributes to the city’s shortage of affordable housing by taking entire units off the market for long-term renters.

While the new regulations prohibit the year-round rental of entire homes in residential neighborhoods, they do allow several ways to use whole units as short-term rentals at least some of the year.

For instance, half-doubles can be used as short-term rentals all year long if the owner lives on the other side; commercial licenses cover properties in areas not zoned residential that can be used as short-term rentals with few restrictions; and entire homes in residential areas can be rented out for up to 90 days a year.

There were 189 applications so far that specified they were for accessory rentals, which cover the renting of rooms or half-doubles. Another 66 were for commercial rentals, and 84 were for temporary rentals. The rest did not specify what type of license was being sought.

Only three applications had been closed out by the city's Department of Safety and Permits by Friday. All were denied for “material misrepresentations” on their applications.

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.​