New Regulations in Austin Could Ban Airbnb, HomeAway Rentals in the City

This past Tuesday, Austin, Texas passed a new set of regulations targeting the way short-term rentals, like those found on Airbnb and HomeAway, are handled within the city’s limits.

The most contentious issue surrounding the city council’s 9-2 vote in favor of new restrictions centered on how residentially based short-term rentals (known as Type 2 STRs) not occupied by the property owner will be handled.

Following a hold on issuing Type 2 STR permits through March 2017, under the newly passed laws STRs will be gradually phased out of the city and then banned by April 2, 2022. The crackdown comes on the heels of the city’s attempts to address the more “seedy” Type 2 STR locations that attract and house disruptive residents and tourists, aka the “party houses.” The effort is linked to an increase in reported disturbances by permanent residents who reside near the temporary living quarters. In other words, local Austin voters don’t want to live near said “party houses.”

Rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Expedia’s HomeAway are opposing the new regulations. HomeAway is perhaps the more vocal of the two, as the majority of Airbnb properties meet the requirements of the restrictions. 87 percent of trips booked to Austin on Airbnb’s platform feature four or fewer guests, while 85 percent of Airbnb’s hosts “share the homes in which they live,” a spokesperson for the company told the Daily Dot.

The additional regulation set to go through March 2017 requires that no more than 10 adults or six unrelated adults stay in a property. During the council meeting, the Daily Dot reports that Councilmember Kathy Tovo labeled several of the vacation residences as “mini-hotels 100 percent of the time” that prevent access to available housing for Austin residents and their families who would occupy the space full-time.

The full article first appeared at Paste Magazine on February 25, 2016.

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