Bad news may be ahead for Austin’s Airbnb-ers, as city council begins discussions on increasing enforcement of short-term rental regulations.
While many of the city’s short-term rentals are illegal, Austin’s public radio station, KUT, reports that it’s difficult to enforce. The Austin Code Department doesn’t have the authority to enter the property to investigate.
“As far as actually going in to be able to verify an alleged violation, we don’t have that authority, unless the actual person in control of the property gives us permission to enter,” Marcus Elliot with the Austin Code Department told KUT.
According to KUT:
To legally operate a short-term rental property, owners must pay a $285 application fee, provide insurance, pay a hotel tax and pass inspection. But the city has a cap on the number of short-term rental permits it will grant, allowing just three percent of residential homes to apply for them. Still, many rent out regardless. Elliot says it’s harder for code officers to discern between a short-term rental and a packed house. Code officers, he says, must verify whether guests are staying illegally while standing outside on someone’s doorstep.
Discussions regarding rental regulation enforcement will commence this week.
A recent National League of Cities survey pointed out that U.S. cities, overall, want such “sharing economy” businesses to grow, but most have concerns about safety, affordability and enforcement.
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.