The gist: Lafayette’s City Council has contentious votes planned Tuesday for a pair of ordinances to create local laws on short-term rentals, like Airbnb and VRBO, that operators say could derail the industry here.
Get caught up: Because STRs don’t yet have to register with Lafayette Consolidated Government or get a license to operate in the city, firm figures on how many there are in Lafayette and where they are concentrated are hard to come by. That has the City Council shooting in the dark with new regulations.
Two competing ordinances would bring STRs under local oversight for the first time in Lafayette, requiring operators to register with the city to get a license.
- Councilman Pat Lewis’ plan would allow them anywhere in the city
- Councilman Andy Naquin’s would ban them from single-family neighborhoods
Number to know: 75% of Lafayette residential areas are zoned for single-family residences only.
Both plans would prohibit individual rooms from being offered and instead require operators to rent out entire homes or apartments, which STR owners generally oppose. Naquin says he intends to make an allowance for owner-occupied STRs to continue renting by the room, even in single-family areas.
About 380 properties are being used for short-term rentals in Lafayette’s city limits, according to The Current’s analysis of listings published by AirDNA.co, an STR industry research site that draws from Airbnb, VRBO and similar services. That number accounts for properties with multiple listings at the same location.
39% of Lafayette’s STRs are in single-family neighborhoods. That’s about 150 properties around the city, and 117 of those offer entire homes for rent, meaning they’re unlikely to qualify as owner-occupied and remain in single-family areas under Naquin’s plan.
Lafayette’s STR market is tiny compared with tourism centers like New Orleans, where more than 7,500 STRs are available, according to AirDNA.co — even though just under 2,400 have permits from the city.
Lafayette operators pointed out at the City Council’s July 11 meeting that STRs accounted for less than 1% of the city’s housing stock, which amounts to more than 60,000 homes.
Around 200 short-term rentals are concentrated in and around Downtown Lafayette. The Saint Streets/Oaklawn area, Freetown-Port Rico neighborhood, McComb-Veazey and Downtown proper each have between 40 and 50 properties being used as STRs, while another 30 or so are operating in Fightinville/La Place.
The vast majority of STR listings in the city, just over 300, offer entire homes or apartments for rent, suggesting they would survive the council’s bid to prohibit renting out private rooms. Another 84 listings offer individual rooms for rent, though it’s unclear how many of those are in owner-occupied properties.
Why it matters: Without precise info on where STRs are operating within the city, it has been hard to judge the scale of their impact on the city’s residents and the potential fallout from any new regulations put on them.
What to watch for: Though both ordinances are set for final votes at the council’s Tuesday meeting, council members have a slew of options they can pursue to mitigate unforeseen consequences for Lafayette’s STR industry and housing market that includes deferring both plans, which dozens of operators asked them to do at the last council meeting.