Fort Worth is yet again working to determine short-term rental regulations to define better where and how property owners can use popular short-term rental services like Airbnb and Vrbo to rent out their properties.
The city defines a short-term rental, also known as a “vacation rental,” as a residential property rented for one to 29 days.
Homeowners, community members, and city officials met twice in late July to discuss proposed changes to the city’s vacation rental policies and provide feedback on the experience of having short-term rentals in their neighborhoods.
As it stands, vacation rentals are only permitted in districts that are “zoned mix use” or in districts zoned for commercial and industrial activity, according to Fort Worth’s assistant city manager, Dana Burghdoff, per NBC 5. The city prohibited their presence in areas zoned strictly residential back in 2018.
Still, regulating vacation rentals is difficult for city authorities since platforms like AirBnB are not responsible for discriminating between property owners renting out their property based on zoning.
Vacation rentals have elicited a mixed response at the public input meetings. Some residents complained about nuisances like regular parties and overcrowded parking, while property owners claimed the situation was not that bad.
“It’s not what the rhetoric is. It’s not homes that are just crime-ridden and parties and meth labs. It’s not that at all. So, we’re trying to close the misunderstanding and the myths out there,” stated Edgar Rodriguez, a Fort Worth Short-Term Rental Alliance representative. “We understand what the neighborhood communities are saying. We don’t want crimes, we don’t want parties. I don’t either.”
For his part, Fort Worth resident Roy Barker stated, “We’re not on constant vacation. We work,” said Barker. He shared that his wife gets up at six in the morning for work, and when neighbors utilize their homes as short-term rentals, “it just cuts our sleep out.” Barker continued, saying, “We always wonder too, ‘who are these people?’ Let’s try to solve this before it gets that bad, where somebody has to lose their life or we have to have police intervention.”
Barker’s neighbor had started operating a vacation rental in his neighborhood, to the chagrin of him and his wife.
“Memorial Day, we had probably at least 18-20 [people] at one time. They didn’t do anything criminal or loud, but parking, we just don’t have the infrastructure to have 10 or 12 cars up here,” he said.
The city is considering having vacation rentals register their properties with the city to ensure they operate where they should. Still, residents are not optimistic that any new regulation could be adequately enforced, according to NBC 5.
The city council will discuss more specific proposals in the coming weeks.