Caught in the middle of New Orleans chaos

I have been a host for about 4 years, maintained Superhost status, and never had any complaints from neighbors etc. I have always been in compliance with city regs, or so I thought, since I have had my STR license renewed by the city without hearing anything from them about being in violation. However, on Jan 11th I received a letter from the city that I was in violation and had until Jan 25th to comply. The city provided no info on how to comply. After many phone calls and a visit to city hall in person, I was able to find out that I need the zoning office to come and inspect the property to rezone it if I am going to continue using the building as an STR, since it is deemed an “accessory building.” The city offers no definition of an accessory building other than a shed or garage. The building I use for STR is neither. It’s a small mother-in-law cottage, sturdy with a proper front door, two windows, full bathroom, working water, and power, heat and AC. However, my calls and emails to the zoning board have gone unanswered. It seems unfair that I was given so little time to come into compliance, when the city doesn’t respond to my requests for info and help, and when I have been told I was in compliance up until now.
To make matters worse, Air B and B has offered no guidance and wants to penalize me for cancelling the upcoming reservations I have. Any help or advice is much appreciated!

It’s government – by definition it is “unfair”.
Since your queries to the city have gone unanswered, I would ignore them until “they” come and do something. But then I’m just that kinda person.
I also would not have cancelled any bookings until the city actually did something other than send a letter. Since you called and emailed, maybe they have decided to drop things, but in typical government fashion didn’t bother to tell you so…


An accessory building is any structure not attached to the main home i.e. potters shed, garage, casita, mother-in-law suite, pool house etc. All buildings meant for human occupancies need to be permitted and checked for code compliance. Now I do not know your situation, nor am I saying that you are not in violation. You might be able to skip the inspection and rezoning if the cottage was previously permitted for human occupancy and you can provide that to the inspector. If you have not been shut down by the city for the violation then I would continue to honor those reservations you currently have but would wait to resolve before accepting any more requests until the issue has been completely cleared up.

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Thanks Cindy! Are you speaking from experience in New Orleans?

No…but the accessory building definition is an standard across the U.S. (studied for my contractors license). Having dealt with city regulations in my own city and some times giving them proof before they come out can ease a lot of headaches.

Thank you, that makes sense. Ugh, if I had known I would have done that long ago. Thank you for the help! Hopefully the city will respond soon and I can get it sorted out.

Hi Leah- I am in New Orleans as well. I don’t think the law about accessory structures is new, even with all the changes in the last few years.

What type of STR license do you have?

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There are a couple of other New Orleans hosts on the forum. Maybe if you use the search function to search for New Orleans you can find them and tag them. I just can’t recall who they are off the top of my head.

Sorry to hear you are having such a frustrating time:weary:
Although I do not live in the US, I have a couple of suggestions that may help:
Firstly, contact ABB again and explain the situation and send them a copy of the letter you received from city via email, this should mitigate the threats of penalizing you for cancelling future guests, you can cite extenuating circumstances, as this is out of your control.

Secondly, write a letter ( hard copy ) with a copy of the letter sent to you. Gently explain that you would like to resolve this and would like to book a time for requested inspection, at the same time request and extension to their stated deadline. I would sign of with " I look forward to resolving this in a timely fashion" Send the letter “Registered Mail” someone has to sign for it and respond, additionally I would send copy to your elected municipal council member for your area, with a cover letter explaining your concerns and what your journey has been thus far in attempting to resolve your issue, closing with “I look forward to hearing from you with any suggestions that you can offer in navigating the city office”

Thirdly, keep a log of every person you speak to with or left a message with, documenting the time, date and content of the conversation and keep a copy of all correspondence.
Lastly take the time to research your local bylaws & building code, you may be able to do this on the internet or go into the office and request a copy ensure your building is in compliance.

If you do connect with someone that is helpful make sure you get their name & phone number you may need them.
Don’t make enemies, even if you are up against individuals that are burnt out or unhelpful, acknowledge to them, that they are probably very busy & thank them for their time.
Educate yourself and keep a cool head.

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Hi Amy,

I have an accessory license.