Arlington

Another Texas city just approved rules to regulate Airbnb, VRBO. Will they be sued?

For years, the Arlington City Council has debated what to do about short-term rentals.

On Tuesday, the City Council took the final steps to regulate them in two votes, one by a 6-3 margin, and the other by a 9-0 vote.

The reaction from the leader of an Arlington short-term rental owners group was swift.

Brad Herbert, a short-term rental (STR) operator and a member of START (or Short-Term Accommodations for Residents and Tourism), had made a last-minute proposal to allow neighborhoods to opt-out of having STRs rather than impose citywide rules.

Going forward with the new STR rules would lead “to a lengthy court case that would tie the hands of the city,“ Herbert said.

The city is regulating short-term rentals by amending the unified development code to designate a short-term rental district within one mile of the city’s entertainment district, which includes Six Flags Over Texas, Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium.

The boundaries for the STR zone are Lamar Boulevard on the north, Center Street on the west, E. Abram Street on the south and State Highway 360 on the east.

Short-term rentals, which are listed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO, will also be permitted in the rest of city zoned for commercial and multifamily if subleases are allowed. Any short-term rental operator would be required to get a temporary permit that must be renewed annually.

The new rules would go into effect on Aug. 1 with enforcement starting on Oct. 1. There would be a grace period until Jan. 31 for short-term rental operators who have been paying hotel occupancy taxes to close their STR if they are not applying for a permit to stay open.

Ken Cox, who owns an Arlington photography business and has considered building high-end short-term rentals in the entertainment district, was satisfied with the result.

“It’s a compromise,” Cox said. “It will bring investment to an area that needs it.”

But Cox said he will study the market before deciding whether to build any short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals have also been getting attention in Austin.

Two pieces of legislation, House Bill 3778 filed by state Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson, and Senate Bill 1888 filed by state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, have been filed that would curb cities’ regulation of short-term rentals. So far, those pieces of legislation haven’t moved forward.

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