Northeast Tarrant

They thought they had the OK on short-term rentals. Then the city began enforcing a ban

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.

Lucie Muns never thought she would have to stop renting her home to guests who were in town to visit relatives or were traveling through on business.

But her plans came to a screeching halt last week when the city council voted to uphold an ordinance that had been on the books for years banning short-term rentals in Grapevine.

Muns and others who rent out their homes and garage apartments have 45 days to stop their short-term rental activities. Grapevine’s ordinance defines a short-term rental as less than 30 days.

Mona Burk, a spokeswoman for the city, declined to say why the city didn’t enforce the ordinance. In an email, she said the city began studying the issue last November, when officials noticed an increase in the number of short-term rentals in the city.

But Mayor William Tate said he doubted whether any of the property owners came to the city to ask permission.

“It started with two or three people doing this and more and more kept coming in,” he said.

“It’s an insanity. It’s totally inconsistent with the single family neighborhoods. We studied this and debated it. This is the way it is. The decision has been made.”

During a public hearing on Sept. 4, council members heard from residents who liked the short term rentals and from those who complained about noise and parties. A city official also said there was an uptick in police calls from properties used for short-term rentals.

But Muns said that there were already ordinances to deal with noise and code violations without targeting property owners. Muns, a real estate agent, started renting her three-bedroom home and guest house last fall when she saw all of the festivals that brought in visitors to Grapevine.

“I thought, oh my goodness, this is a viable business. Families were coming from out of state, and they brought me gifts ... they were wonderful,” she said.

Muns said when she purchased her home on Ball Street, a short walk from the popular Main Street, she could see dirt through the floors of the 1960 home.

Muns spent about $250,000 on improvements. She installed new appliances and floors and made other improvements. She built a large living room with sliding doors leading to a wrap-around porch.

Before she started advertising her home on Airbnb, Muns said she asked city officials if there were any ordinances that would prevent her from renting on a short-term basis. She was told that it wouldn’t be a problem.

Robin Cunningham told the Star-Telegram in an email that she and her husband began renting out their garage apartment to bring in some extra income and to teach their teenagers about running a business.

“There is a reasonable solution and Grapevine could be a model to other cities as to how we can work together as a community to compromise and benefit both city officials, residents and [short term rental] owners,” she said. “We could literally all be winners in this if we just work together.”

Muns said that she and other property owners are canceling bookings for the holidays — a busy time in Grapevine — which is often called the Christmas Capital of Texas.

“We have GrapeFest this weekend. How can we invite all of these people here and be unwelcoming,” she said.

Elizabeth Campbell: 817-390-7696, @fwstliz

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