With the Super Bowl less than a month away, websites like Craigslist and AirBNB are full of residents in New Orleans looking to rent their homes. For residents, it’s a quick and easy way to make some cash. And tourists get to stay in a home rather than a hotel. The problem is that, without the proper permit, it’s illegal. Gambit discovered that the city has yet to enforce the code, and City Business has covered the issue, as well.
The City Code prohibit such rentals and is designed to protect New Orleans small business owners. Specifically, it’s designed to protect bread and breakfasts. Yes, there’s a permit for a bread and breakfast. The owners of these businesses need to pay for permits and pay for additional taxes. When private residences are rented out, they take business away from the small hotels, and increase the number of beds. An increased availability of rooms decreases the price. It’s simple supply and demand economics.
Luckily, the city doesn’t completely prohibit such rentals. They only require that you request a permit and pay the proper fee. Whether or not the city decides to actually enforce the ordinance is anyone’s guess. If you want to operate legally, the Bureau of Revenue and Finance can help you with that process. I can also recommend an attorney if you’d rather not handle it yourself.read more
Goodbye 2012, hello 2013. After my first full year as a business attorney in New Orleans, I’ve compiled a short list of New Year’s Resolutions for a small business owner. Generally, each of these recommendations is based on my conversations with business owners about how to avoid trouble, or be in a better position to handle trouble when it arises.
Keep an Accurate Accounting of Income and Expenses
Keep an accurate accounting of your business income and expenses. This year, I’ve been dealing with many business owners who want to file claims in the BP Oil Spill Settlement. Some have the documentation they need to show their losses, and they’ve been able to make significant recoveries. Other businesses do not have any financial records, and it’s harder for them to make claims because they can’t prove their income or expenses.
The BP Oil Spill Settlement isn’t the only reason to keep track of financials. If someone wants to buy your business, or if you need to plan for litigation, you need to know these numbers. Quickbooks will only set you back about $150, but having a clear financial picture of where you’ve been and where your business is going is worth well more than that.
Organize your Business Documents
Some business owners have documentation all over the place. All your business docs, such as leases, insurance forms, employment records, corporate minutes, and any other thing related to your business should be in one easy-to-find place. Also, someone else business the one business owner should know where these docs are, or how to find them, just in case something happens to you.
Put it in Writing, and Have it Reviewed by an Attorney
Without a doubt, the biggest issue I’ve faced this year is business owners who made an agreement without putting it into writing. It’s very hard for an attorney to help you if something goes wrong with that agreement. The second biggest mistake is not having that agreement reviewed by an attorney. Sometimes, the business owners do have contracts in place, but the contract doesn’t spell out their rights properly, or puts the client at potential disadvantage. Although all those “boilerplate” clauses at the bottom of contracts often seem unnecessary, they are there for a reason, and it’s important that your contact spell them all out.
So, that’s my suggestions. Keep your books in order, organize your legal documents, and put everything in writing (and make sure it’s in your favor). These steps do require a small investment of time and money, but they’re just that, investments. If trouble does arise, you’ll be glad you made them.
Happy 2013, Everyone!read more
A week ago, most of southeast Louisiana was “hunkered down” while Hurricane Isaac passed through the area. As expected, a large portion of the residents of the state eventually lost their power. Trees fell, wires became disconnected, and things break. Whatever, it happens. But several days later, residents became irate that Entergy, the local utility provider, still had not connected power to their homes.read more
A few months ago, I had a client tell me that he wanted to resolve a dispute quickly, even if it meant he would have to spend a bit more money. I recommended a meditation. The other side agreed to mediate, and the mediation was held a couple of weeks ago. Now, a case that could have lingered in the court system for a few years and cost thousands of dollars in attorneys is fees is settled and completely finished. So, what is mediation?read more
6 Quick Tips on Drafting a Social Media Policy for your Small Business. Check it out.read more