Apr 26, 2023 - News

North Texas lawmakers struggle to regulate short-term rentals

Illustration of the Airbnb logo as a money clip on some folded hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several North Texas cities, including Dallas, are still debating how to regulate short-term rentals.

What's happening: Dallas City Council has yet to vote on a proposed ordinance that would restrict short-term rentals to mixed zoning areas after more than three years of discussion.

  • The council was briefed on the ordinance this month, and last week four council members asked the city manager to put the matter on Wednesday's agenda for a vote.
  • Yes, but: It's not on the calendar.

Driving the news: A bill pending in the Texas Legislature would limit the ability of cities and municipalities to regulate short-term rentals.

  • The House Land and Resource Management Committee heard testimony on an updated version of HB 2665, which originally limited local oversight to requiring the rentals to register.
  • A substitute version calls for the issue to be studied by a task force and considered during the next legislative session in two years.

Why it matters: The issue has become a fight over property owners' rights, what neighborhoods want, the ability of cities to regulate their own areas and state authority.

State of play: Fort Worth passed an ordinance requiring short-term rental operators to register with the city and pay a registration fee and hotel occupancy tax.

By the numbers: There were 1,765 registered short-term rentals in Dallas as of the end of March. But city staff estimate there are likely thousands more.

  • Plano has identified 345 short-term rentals, per WFAA.

What they're saying: Many North Texas residents submitted feedback to the House committee, saying they wanted localities to retain control over regulating short-term rentals.

  • "In a state as big and diverse as Texas, there is no 'one size fits all' policy that would apply equally well," Carol Peters, a member of United Neighborhoods of Fort Worth, told the committee.

The intrigue: Airbnb hosts earned a median $10,800 last year in Texas, per the Dallas Morning News.

Flashback: In 2018, Attorney General Ken Paxton called Austin's short-term rental ordinance unconstitutional.

  • "City governments do not have the authority to trample Texas constitutional rights and protections for property owners and their guests," Paxton said in a statement at the time.
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