The city of Austin, Texas, is no longer focused on a crackdown of unlicensed short-term rentals (STRs) due to legal questions. In September 2022, city staff said there were about 11,000 STRs in Austin, but only 1,875 were licensed. In response, city council passed a resolution in December aimed at getting more of them in compliance. The resolution directed the city manager to change city code to bring in companies like Airbnb and VRBO to make sure properties are licensed before they’re posted on their platforms. Now, a city spokesperson said city officials are shifting focus: “The [Development Services Department] Code Division continues to process short term rental license applications. However, due to the evolving law in this area, the division has refocused its enforcement program on behavioral issues that make STRs incompatible with Austin’s neighborhoods." The city did not outline any specific legal questions surrounding the resolution, but a lawsuit by Airbnb against New York City is causing concern. Dustin Abney, whose company Portoro manages 30 properties in Austin that are listed online, including on Airbnb, doesn’t think Austin’s rules are as restrictive as New York City’s. “It actually came as a relief that there were very well-described and accessible policies that we could find,” Abney said. But he’s worried about what might happen if New York City wins the legal battle.
KXAN (TX) (06/07/23) Tahera Rahman