Dallas does not have regulations for Airbnb. City council can change that.

Early one morning, two strangers entered the front door of Emil Lippe’s home in Lakewood, priced at $ 940,000.

The two men, Lippe said, had mistaken his house for the Airbnb rental where they were staying next door. After asking why they were there, Lippe said they turned and left without a word.

Lippe complained to the city about the noise, safety and traffic jams caused by his neighbor’s Airbnb rental. Echoing several other residents, Lippe said he felt like he lived near a hotel instead of an area zoned for single-family homes.

“We don’t have a neighborhood anymore,” Lippe said on Tuesday. “People think, ‘Oh, Airbnb is cool. It doesn’t matter if it’s next to your house, not next to me.

Dallas council members on Tuesday asked city staff to form a task force that would explore options to regulate short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. At the council’s quality of life, arts and culture committee meeting, members discussed how to handle complaints from neighborhoods with limited staff.

Short-term rental owners are required to register with the city, but most of them do not. About 400 of the estimated 1,200 short-term rental properties currently on the market are registered and report their hotel occupancy taxes each month, city officials said.

But there are limits to what the city can do. There is currently no definition or guideline for short-term rentals and no effective way to impose fines if landlords fail to register their properties.

Council member David Blewett, who represents parts of downtown and Uptown, asked for information on the matter. He said poorly managed short-term rentals are a “threat to our single-family neighborhoods.”

Others who advertise their homes on Airbnb have said these cases are unique. Many of them live on or near the properties they rent out.

Kathi Chandler, who lists two properties on Airbnb and lives in Oak Cliff, said she believes short-term rentals provide a service. Its neighborhood is popular with visitors and has little to no hotel options.

Chandler said she was not against more regulations. She credits part of her success to her community – her neighbors help keep tabs on the property. She supplies clients to local businesses, she said, and sometimes works with restaurateurs before waiting for a tenant.

“If my neighbors have a problem, then I have a problem,” Chandler said. “My neighbors come first. And they watch out for me.”

Kathi Chandler poses for a photo outside of her AirBnb on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 on N Windomere Ave in Dallas.(Ashley Landis / Staff Photographer)

Dallas City Council approved a contract with MUNIRevs in 2018 to research and identify short-term rentals that should be registered with the city. As of November, Dallas has collected about $ 245,000 in taxes from the 400 registered rentals, according to the city.

Several Airbnb property owners said on Tuesday they were unaware they had to register with the city until November, when they received a letter.

Chandler is not yet registered with the city. She refuses to reimburse taxes for failing to comply with a requirement she said she was unaware of, and believes the fines are excessive. Short-term rental owners owe a penalty of 15% on overdue taxes more than 10 days and annual interest of 10% on overdue taxes by 30 days.

“I don’t refund taxes, period,” Chandler said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Chris Averite, another Airbnb rental owner in Oak Cliff, said he was now registered with the city and had paid his taxes back since November. But he has been operating the rental since June.

“We didn’t know we had to register with the city. It was to our surprise that we now owed back taxes, ”Averite said. He asked why Dallas couldn’t work with Airbnb to collect taxes directly from the business rather than from individual owners.

City of Dallas officials have said they will work with landowners to help them make up for the back taxes they owe.

Traci Mayer, executive director of the Hotel Association of North Texas, said Wednesday that short-term rentals should be subject to the same regulations and taxes as hotels.

“Our hosting properties operate under these rules, and any facility that operates as a hosting property should be subject to the same rules,” Mayer said.

Across Texas, regulations for the online rental industry vary from city to city.

Austin’s order was the strictest, said Kris Sweckard, Dallas director of sustainability and construction, but it was the subject of litigation. In November, a state appeals court struck down parts of the law relating to offsite owners and limits on the number of people in rentals.

El Paso and Houston currently have no regulations on short-term rentals, Sweckard told council members.

Other cities have rules. Fort Worth does not allow them in residential areas but does not impose hotel occupancy taxes. Arlington prohibits them in single-family neighborhoods and limits off-street parking. San Antonio limits rentals to two people per room and the city also recently launched a task force to examine the impact on neighborhoods.

Dallas board member Jennifer Staubach Gates, vice chair of the Quality of Life, Arts and Culture committee, said the state could also prevent cities from fully regulating short-term rentals in the city. to come up. She warned that the regulations could place an additional burden on a city already struggling with limited staff to enforce the rules.

Blewett said he would support certain regulations – as long as they aren’t onerous for homeowners but offer neighbors certain protections – like enforcement of the dedicated after-hours code and additional fees for homeowners who don’t. not follow the rules.

“I could see entire blocks becoming Airbnbs because no one else is going to be living there,” Blewett said.

Although the problem is not pervasive, he added, “we have to have tools.”

UPDATE at 12:01 p.m. on February 20, 2020, to correct a typo on Emil Lippe’s name.

Comments are closed.