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This Texas city’s dispute over short-term rentals will be in court for a while

Grapevine cracking down on people who rent their homes on sites such as Airbnb

Property owners said the city told them there were no ordinances or other restrictions, but the city council learned that the zoning laws don't allow short term rentals in Grapevine. Property owners are angry and have canceled bookings.
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Property owners said the city told them there were no ordinances or other restrictions, but the city council learned that the zoning laws don't allow short term rentals in Grapevine. Property owners are angry and have canceled bookings.

The legal battle over short-term rentals in Grapevine is still tied up in court.

Last month, the case was moved to the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth after the city argued that a state district court didn’t have jurisdiction over the case.

In an email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Grapevine’s city attorney Matthew Boyle said that “the Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to establish the Court’s jurisdiction over their causes of action. The City has been and continues to work to protect the integrity of its residential neighborhoods.”

The plaintiffs seek to profit with their “money-making venture” at the expense of their neighbors, Boyle said.

Last fall, property owners sued the city after the council clarified its zoning ordinance banning short-term rentals, which is defined as leasing property for less than 30 days.

The property owners said they were never told that the practice violated the city’s ordinance and were encouraged to rent their homes.

Patrick Sutton, an attorney representing the property owners, said in an interview that the debate over regulating short-term rentals is the most important property rights issue in the past ten years.

“There are people who feel aggrieved and feel that the city has done them wrong,” Sutton said.

Grapevine isn’t the only city wrestling with how to handle short-term rentals.

Fort Worth doesn’t allow short-term rentals in residential areas, but they can operate in commercial areas with a mix of housing and businesses.

Neighborhoods are grappling with property owners renting their homes on sites like Airbnb and VRBO, but some residents have complained about noise, traffic and other problems associated with short-term rentals, or str, as they are also called.

In April, the Arlington city council voted to regulate short-term rentals by designating a district within a mile of the city’s entertainment district which includes Six Flags Over Texas, Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium.

The city also allows the strs in areas zoned for commercial and multifamily housing where subleasing is allowed. The regulations took effect Aug. 1, and enforcement will start Oct. 1.

The Legislature has also weighed in on curbing cities’ power to regulate short-term rentals. Two bills were introduced in the Texas house and senate, but the legislation didn’t pass.

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