About Us

Make a Donation
Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism

City reports few complaints registered over short-term rentals

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 by Michael Kanin

An audit requested by Council Member Bill Spelman that investigates a host of questions about short-term rentals in the City of Austin has revealed that only a fraction of the city’s 911 (0.2 percent) and 311 (0.4 percent) calls have come in relation those properties. The study further illustrated that only 0.2 percent of Austin’s code compliance citations were delivered to those properties.


Council Members got the report late Friday. On Monday, Council Members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo placed an item on this week’s Council agenda to set a public hearing next month for new regulations for short-term rental properties. If approved, the item might force a quicker disposition for rules changes for the area’s short term rentals than city staff is prepared to handle.


Indeed, during the City Council’s regular Tuesday work session, Mayor Lee Leffingwell hinted at that fact. “My understanding was that the staff, on this particular item…had said they hadn’t posted it because they weren’t ready to do it,” he said.


On Tuesday night, members of the city’s Planning Commission further indicated that the changes to short-term rental regulations weren’t quite ready for prime time with a vote to postpone a discussion item about the rules to May 22. Their action came at the request of staff. Instead, the commission created another short-term rental working group.


Short-term rental units are properties that are leased out for brief periods of time, primarily to vacationers. This can also include houses rented by their owner-occupants to guests for just a brief period of time. Morrison and Tovo pushed for new regulations over concerns that the propagation of the facilities was hurting central Austin neighborhoods.


In January, Morrison and Tovo – each of whom are neighborhood favorites – faced off with Spelman over his resolution to suspend the overhaul of short-term rental rules and his call for the audit (See In Fact Daily, Jan. 11, 2012). Spelman won that round, and new short-term rental regulations were put on hold as the auditor conducted his study.


In addition to the findings associated with 911 and 311 calls, and code compliance complaints, the auditor’s report addressed whether the short-term rental properties were owner-occupied, as well as the question of whether the units were located primarily in one area. The study concluded that 62 percent of the facilities were owner-occupied versus 26 percent that were not.


The auditor also found that 32 percent of the properties are located in the 78704 zip code. That figure is followed by roughly 12 percent dispersal of the units in the 78703 and 78702 regions, respectively, just west and just east of downtown. None of the rest of the city’s zip codes, including 78756 and 78757—the Allandale neighborhood — held more than 5 percent of Austin’s short-term rental properties. However, some who live in that particular neighborhood have been especially vocal in their opposition to such rentals.

Join Your Friends and Neighbors

We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Back to Top