After years without regulation, Dallas asks what it can do for short-term rentals near you
Members of the Dallas City Council were briefed on Wednesday on two options to regulate short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, but ultimately asked planning and code enforcement officials to return later this month- here with revisions. So we’re not sure exactly how the city will approach regulating Airbnbs and VRBOs and the like around the city, but these short-term rentals will likely need to be owner-occupied properties if they’re in residential areas.
I first wrote in the short-term rental market in 2017, after a trip to South Padre Island (more on that in a minute). Shortly after, a Dallas landlord in the Northaven Park neighborhood (next to Withers Elementary School) emailed me to talk about the landlord of a nearby house. That person had listed the residence on Airbnb and parties were happening frequently, the neighbor said. An occupant staged a nude photo shoot by the pool, which was only partially obscured by a privacy fence.
At the time, it seemed the city was reluctant to discontinue what was still considered some kind of experiment. Councilor at the time, Philip Kingston, told me that the city’s existing zoning could be applied to the STR market.
“The city has regulations in place regarding single-family zoning,” he said. “You cannot have more than six unrelated people living in the same house. But does a short-term rental apply under this order? We do not know.
Now, in 2022, many landlords are asking the city to step in and regulate what they say has become a nuisance in their neighborhoods, with some hosts willingly marketing homes as ideal locations for large gatherings that happen with a enough frequency to really, really annoy the residents.
During Wednesday’s briefing, several landlords spoke about the problems Dallas’ largely unregulated market brings to their neighborhoods.
“My once-quiet neighborhood has been disrupted by inconsiderate guests staying in an STR next to me,” said Hector Escalante, who lives in the Elmwood area. Escalante said the new owners listed the house on Airbnb because they can “earn more money by renting it out overnight.”
He said he checked with the city and was told that the owners, who don’t live in Dallas, hadn’t registered their STRs with the city and weren’t paying property taxes. hotel occupancy.
“They live in Southlake and don’t care about my safety or my family’s peace of mind,” he said.
Council members said they frequently receive complaints from their constituents. West Dallas Councilman Omar Narvaez said there were multiple slates in the Victory Gardens neighborhood alone, and “half of them are already advertised as illegal event centers”.
City staff presented two options. Zoning would be updated to divide short-term rentals into owner-occupied single-family homes. The other would be the opposite of that. Owner-occupied STRs (in other words, granny flats, ADUs, and garage flats) would be permitted in all zoning districts. But those not occupied by the owner would be prohibited in areas zoned single-family residential. Off-street parking would be required of the landlord, and having more than one STR in a single dwelling would be illegal. It would also be illegal to use these properties as an event venue, restaurant or other entertainment use unless the rental is in a designated area and the owner is certified to allow such a thing.
The second option would have the same restrictions for parking and events, but would allow STRs to continue in all zoning districts, owner-occupied or not.
Oak Cliff councilor Carolyn King Arnold offered a third option, which outright bans STRs in all single-family residential areas.
All three plans had fans on the board. The real debate comes down to whether Dallas should use zoning to keep certain STRs (or all STRs) out of specific areas, or whether it should create stricter regulations.
Downtown, Downtown and East Dallas Councilman Paul Ridley said he would prefer the Dallas Zoning Advisory Commission and the City Plan Commission also intervene.
“It is important that we use this mechanism before dictating what our final regulations should look like,” he said.
But Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Chad West said time is running out and it could take another year for the city’s advisory councils to get on the same page as the council without more direction. succinct.
“It’s important for us to say, ‘This is where we are’,” he said.
The problem is compounded by the fact that no one really knows how many hosts there are in town. AirDNA, which analyzes the listings and breaks them down by city and state, indicates that there are 4,884 active listings in the city of Dallas. Airbnb represents 64% of them. Eighty-nine percent of these listings are whole-home rentals, which, again, would not fly under the owner-occupier route.
The city says it has about 1,200 registered short-term rental property owners, prompting most council members to wonder how effective an ordinance would be if the city couldn’t even enforce its requirement to basic registration, which is literally the only current regulation. .
“I’m really not sure we’re anywhere close to having the capacity to implement everything we’re doing here,” said Lake Highlands Councilor Adam McGough.
In fact, DOS calls to 311 are only answered on weekends; staff are paid overtime to do so. Dallas’ acting director of code compliance, Lynetta Kidd, told the board she would need more staff if any of the options on the table were adopted because it “would be a 24-hour operation. 7”.
Kidd recommended mandatory registration and an order prohibiting platforms like Airbnb from listing unregistered properties. She suggested annual registration fees, rules about proximity to STRs when in single-family neighborhoods, routine inspections, and the requirement for an emergency contact who could respond to any complaints. Properties with more than three citations would likely have their registration revoked.
What Kidd recommended is very similar to what Mesquite did last month and what other towns did.
Mesquite designed a arrangement which deals with parking, noise and disorderly conduct in rentals. It also requires annual home registration and inspection, and homeowners are required to post signs inside and outside the home regarding city ordinances. These signs will also provide the owner’s contact information in case neighbors need to reach them. It also limits overnight guests to a maximum of four per home, with two adults per bedroom and street parking for just two spaces.
Mesquite Neighborhood Services Director Maria Martinez said the goal was to make STRs virtually indistinguishable from other homes in the neighborhood.
“The best-case scenario would be that you wouldn’t even know it was working,” she said. “Maybe you will notice a different car ahead. This is how I would view a compliant short term rental.
On South Padre Island, where the population can easily quadruple during spring break, STR rules were designed to reduce the large parties that proliferated in beach houses and island condos. Leases for STRs should be written in such a way as to allow a landlord or their representative to enter the tenancy at any time. Landlords are also required to provide their contact information when they register the property with the city, and they (or someone they designate) must be able to respond to a police call within the hour, with a copy of the rental contract in hand.
Denver’s regulations are closest to the third option, the outright ban in residential neighborhoods proposed by Councilman Arnold. To enter the company in denver, you must first obtain a tenant tax identification number from the city. Once a landlord has this they can then apply for a commercial short term rental license. The city also limits STRs to owner-occupied primary residences only, and in order to be listed on Airbnb, the owner must be able to prove they have permission to do so.
Before Dallas considers zoning, the city should determine whether it has made a good faith regulatory effort. Given that there are potentially around 3,600 unregistered STRs in the city, and that registering and paying hotel tax is literally the only regulation the city has attempted so far, the answer is really – if we’re being brutally honest – no.
What does a good faith regulatory effort look like? Probably much like what Kidd described, which is extremely similar to what Mesquite and South Padre adopted. I would argue that the greatest tool the city has to improve the ability to regulate STRs is to enforce compliance with the registration requirement. That would be tantamount to insisting that Airbnb and other platforms no longer list properties that cannot prove they are registered with the city of Dallas (which Denver has done). Forcing compliance with this avenue makes it easier to monitor problem properties, as the city has better accounting of its STR list.
Clearly, living next to properties that suddenly rage almost constantly isn’t anyone’s ideal, and the city needs to do something beyond that. But going from virtually no rule to almost complete shutdown ignores the fact that nearly 1,200 hosts have complied with Dallas’ rule alone.
We can do better than that.
Bethany Erickson is the Senior Digital Editor of Magazine D. She has written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.