City Council Generally Pleased with New 'Airbnb' Regulations

The City Council is considering a proposal to regulate so called 'short term rentals,' through Airbnb and similar companies, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The report, which is the result of months of public hearings and comments from neighborhood groups and short term rental operators, was presented at a room packed with interested citizens.

City Development Director Michael Shannon told City Council that the regulations require that people who want to rent out their homes to paying guests register with the city, and pay a $100 registration fee.

"That will be tied into verification that you are already paying or are set up to pay the HOT, or Hotel Occupancy Tax," Shannon said.

The regulations set up two types of short term rentals, and allow rentals for a maximum of 30 days.  So called 'Type One' STR's are homes, or condos which are currently occupied by the owner.  Type Two STR's involve buildings which are not occupied by the owner.

Shannon says following neighborhood concerns about traffic congestion and parking issues, the rules will give greater leeway to homes which are near main corridors.

"So if you are closer to the edge of, say, a Fredericksburg Road, we keep them a little more toward the commercial corridor and not push them into the heart of the neighborhood."

He says a requirement that all STR property be inspected by the city has been dropped, in the face of concerns by owners.  Instead, he says Type One owners will be allowed to 'self inspect,' unless the city receives complaints.  Type Two properties will be treated more stringently, 

Homes allowing STR's will be required to show proof of adequate insurance coverage to protect the renters, and a rule has been imposed which will punish repeat offenders for noise or other violations by barring them from participating in short term rentals for one year.

The regulations will also forbid any participant, whether Type One or Type Two, from renting out property for use as an event venue, a restaurant, or a party room.

Only 12.5% of homes on a standard city block could be used as STR sites.

Parking and noise restrictions will not be included in the STR rules, because laws covering parking and noise are already part of city law.

The local hotel motel industry has expressed its support for the regulations, but there could be some speed bumps.  

The Legislature next term is expected to take up statewide regulations on STR's.  Also, a State Supreme Court ruling earlier this year threw out restrictions imposed by Timberwood Park, a homeowners association in north Bexar County, which barred owners from renting their homes.  The court ruled that as long as the home would continue to be used for residential purposes, the person who was the resident was of no importance to the HOA.

A final council vote is possible by November.


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