It’s a simple process that hinges on vigilance and reporting every violation every day you see one. Each violation can be fined up to $500, so if you report multiple violations a day, and report multiple violations a week, the fines can accumulate quickly!
First, how do you know if an AirBnB/short-term rental is illegal?
Look up the address in the city’s permit database:
1. Go to tinyurl.com/STRdatabase
2. Zoom in on the map to find the property in question. License info will pop up in a window. Scroll through to see if they have current permits! Also, sometimes dots are layered on top of one an- other, so you have to zoom waaaay in and click on them all to find the right one.
3. If the permit is expired, if the permit says it is “pending”, or if there is no dot that corresponds to the address you’re looking for, it means the STR is illegal!
4. OPTIONAL: If you want to be absolutely 100% sure that there is no permit for the address in question, you can download all of the permits from the website and go through and search the ad- dress. You can download the data by clicking on the EXPORT button in the upper right of the web page with the maps of all STRs.
What if the STR is permitted, but the owners are still jerks?? They might be violating the terms of their permits! Check to see:
a. How many guests are allowed to stay? If the permit says 4, but you see 8 people coming out of the house, that’s a violation! Report it! If you’re feeling bold, take pics of the people staying there. Photos help.
b. Do they have their permits clearly posted? If they don’t, that’s a violation! Report it!
c. Are they noisy, or strewing trash about? That’s a violation! Report it! Take pictures or video.
d. Does the permit say that it’s an Accessory STR (i.e. the owner is supposedly living there full time), but you know for a fact they don’t? That’s a violation! Report it as a possible homestead exemption fraud! Only do this if you are 100% positive that the doesn’t live there.
Find the AirBnB Listing:
Try to track down the actual AirBnB listing for the STR:
1. Go to airbnb.com. You’ll need to type in dates to book a listing. They only show you listings that are available based on the range of dates you plug in, so if the AirBnB is rented out for the random week you chose, it might not show up. Pick a Tuesday – Thurs stretch in a month far away when there are no holidays or special events.
2. Navigate the map to where the AirBnB is physically located, and start moving it around to try and see if you can ID the place. AirBnB scrambles the geographic location of listings, so you might have to go as far as 3 – 5 blocks away from where the actual house is located to find the listing. Be prepared to repeat this process a few times to find the listing.
3. If the STR has an expired permit or the owner attempted to get the permit and failed, start googling things that could turn up the listing. For example, if the person who tried to get the STR permit is named Madeline, and the STR is located in the Treme, google “Madeline Airbnb Treme New Orleans”.
Once you find the listing, copy it to your computer to so you don’t have to go through the head- ache of finding it again!
How to Report:
2. Type in all of the info! Decide if you want your report to be verbally shared with the violator or if you want to be notified when the case goes up for adjudication.
3. Be sure to include any photos and the web address for the AirBnB listing if you found it! If you never found it, just be sure to stress why you think it’s an STR. You can also just point-blank ask people coming out of the AirBnB if it is an AirBnB.
Rinse, wash & repeat! All of the reports are time-stamped, so you can report on Friday, Saturday & Sunday, you can report when the guests change, you can get your neighbors to report! You can finally snitch and feel good about it! We can help to stem the tide of evictions and displacement by doing these short steps to significantly eat into the profit margins of these vulturous AirBnB proprietors. The scales of power are always tipped in favor of the owner; it’s time to tip those scales back.