Sunday, July 3, 2016

Short Term Rentals

With the AirBNB issue on the front burner, I guess it is time to talk about some of the issues.  A couple of years ago we had a party house that went viral on several weekends and the neighbors were fed up with the actions of the short term renters.  I brought this forward to Council and there was little appetite for a resolution at that time.  It was determined that it would be advantageous to list the residence with the city and if they were rented as short term rentals then a hotel tax should be added, because it took away from the business of our hotels.  It would also register the home so we could see if there recurring issues with certain rentals.   Now this is part of the economic impact that our city has because we enjoy a vibrant entertainment district.  People will come here for any number of events. One such event that was problematic was Texas/OU weekend.  You can imagine students renting a 5,000 sq/ft plus house to party for the weekend next to your home.  This is what we need to stop! 

Now I believe that there are legitimate and responsible people that can rent their homes without the discourse that some irresponsible owners allow.   That is where some regulation and guidance would be advised.  Austin doesn’t allow you to rent you’re home unless you are the resident of that home.  This would allow people to rent their own home for events such as Super Bowls and World Series etc.  This also would preserve home owner’s rights, which is a big issue.  The second possibility would be to have the home owner live within a certain distance from the rental property, say 300 ft.  That way if there was a problem then the neighbors would have recourse to the owner that lives in the immediate area.

If you own a property, you should have certain rights.  One of those rights is to rent the home to help defer the cost of the mortgage.  But the rights of the owner should not allow the degradation of the neighborhood.  The problem is that there are good landlords and there are also slumlords that only care about cash flow.  The city will have to regulate for the lowest common denominator, to insure that neighborhoods are protected and still uphold property owner’s rights.  That is why I brought this back up to the Council as a new agenda item.  I suggest that you watch the June 28th afternoon session of the meeting, on the city website.  It is very informative and will give you an idea as to the depth of this issue.

Now some people say that this is the same thing as running a business in a neighborhood, zoned for residential.  No it is not.  The swinger’s house was in fact a business that had a revenue stream dedicated to providing a service.  Renting your home does, in fact provide a revenue stream.  But the service is shelter, just like the homeowner next door, and we are all entitled to shelter.  If a homeowner rents his home for a year, we don’t know what that renter is like.  They might be very nice people.  The duration of the rental seems to be the problem, because if there is a more frequent turnover of the inhabitants, then there is an increasing the possibility of problematic tenants.  That is why I think the city should look at this issue and come up with a solution. 


  1. Charlie, An interesting and challenging issue for certain. Speaking of mortgages though, if there is one involved I strongly suspect the mortgage provider would not permit your renting out the property unless the mortgagee specified that was the purpose upfront. I would think the home insurer would be another issue and need to be designated as a rental property.
    Another method of placating everyone, well almost, would be to permit home rentals during certain times or certain events, i.e. Super Bowl week or an All-Star game, a hoped for World Series etc. I do know that certain places were golf tournaments are held such regulations exist.
    Good luck with this issue!

  2. Thank you for writing about it. I actually do see it as a business when the only purpose of the house is to be rented. It's not a home; it's a short-stay hotel. Just because the product is shelter doesn't make it not a business - lots of businesses are in the business of shelter.

    Here's what I would like: You can only rent out a house for short-term rentals if you live in the house (no just having a vacant house with transient people there to party on weekends); there are fees if the police/fire are called (why should the city incur that cost?); they should be regulated (registered with the city - certain number/type of complaints and you lose your ability to do it); and there is a strict limit on the number of people in a single residence overnight.

  3. The Committee and Council have your work cut out for you. In one sense, it is the age old dilemma faced whenever rental homes begin to proliferate in a neighborhood. Some landlords and tenants are responsible. Some are not. But, with these vacation rental concepts, it's not really quite that simple, is it? I guess the question becomes, "When does a private residence, rented or otherwise, cease to be a private residence, becoming an unregulated business located within a residential neighborhood?" Regulations or ordinances need to specifically address the concept of non-resident owners utilizing their residential property as a commercial enterprise. Some managed HOAs, ( with common ownership authority ) might regulate their member owners to prevent certain rental arrangements. However, most neighborhoods have no such professional HOA. Or, an HOA is simply a confederation of residential owners with little expertise, clout, or resources to regulate an issue such as this. When faced with an irresponsible landlord, regular homeowners have little recourse other than to call APD when a disturbance, accident, or parking issue arises. Owners themselves are often no longer resident in the home or neighborhood, or never lived there to begin with. Finding them to lodge a complaint can be difficult. Although I agree Council must be prudent when proposing any new or strengthened ordinances directed at these "vacation rental" properties, I am also confident that Council will do its homework. There are many cities that are vacation destinations that have worked with residential vacation rentals for a very long time. These rentals are a needed part of their economy. What are the policies, procedures, ordinances, occupancy and tax requirements, for example, in Galveston, on Padre Island, and so on? I am confident that some form of registration, regulation, insurance and tax requirements can be codified for Arlington. For me, this is a complex issue of maintaining safety and security for both guests and permanent neighbor's of vacation rental "homes," limiting unnecessary impact on City services, and protecting both the quality of our neighborhoods, as well as the legitimate interests of traditional hotels, licensed B&Bs, boarding houses, and other such regulated businesses.


Thank you for your comment.