Making a few extra bucks by renting out the guest room to random travelers may be refreshingly easy thanks to websites like Airbnb that list and book the rooms, but homeowners should be aware of local ordinances and tax collection requirements.
“Unregistered, unlicensed individuals or entities that rent out rooms without a license are breaking the law,” said Mavis Early, a spokeswoman for the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association. New Orleans has a city ordinance prohibiting “short-term rentals” that are not hotels or a small bed and breakfast type inn.
It is illegal to rent a French Quarter property for fewer than 60 days and fewer than 30 days for properties outside of the French Quarter, said Ryan Berni, press secretary for Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
The hotel industry has criticized the rise of short-term rentals, primarily on the grounds that these business arrangements fly below the radar of municipal oversight when it comes to tax collections and other requirements.
“Not only is it unfair to those that pay their taxes and their business taxes, but it also affects the city overall because the city and other entities receive those taxes,” Early said, pointing to facilities like the New Orleans Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome, which receive some of these tourism-specific taxes and then use the money to help bring more people to New Orleans.
“It is a concern here,” she added of the short-term rental phenomenon. “It’s been going on and increasing in the French Quarter.” Attempts to reach some of the property owners with Airbnb listings in New Orleans were unsuccessful.
New Orleans collects a 13 percent hotel tax and another “hotel occupancy fee,” which can be $1 to $3 per room, depending on the number of rooms in the hotel.
Baton Rouge has no ordinance prohibiting the types of room listings on Airbnb, and sales taxes collections are only required when renting out six or more rooms, according to state law.
However, the city’s hotel and motel occupancy tax collections are required when renting two or more rooms, according to East Baton Rouge Parish’s tax regulations.
Airbnb is not responsible for collecting or remitting sales or use taxes, the company‘s officials say. Airbnb also is not responsible for being aware of all of the various local requirements, said Emily Joffrion, an Airbnb spokeswoman.
“As a marketplace that’s operating in 19,000 cities all around the world, we’re not in a position to know all of the local laws,” Joffrion said. “So we really do advise our users to read up on their local laws.”