Dallas is asking a state appeals court to overturn a local judge’s order blocking the city from banning short-term rental properties in single-family zoned areas.
The city last week filed notice with the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas to review the case. The appeal is in response to Dallas County District Court Judge Monica Purdy on Dec. 6 approving a temporary injunction sought by a group of STR operators suing the city over new rules meant to increase oversight and stop them from operating in single-family neighborhoods.
Dallas’ challenge isn’t a surprise. A city spokeswoman told The Dallas Morning News on Dec. 6 that options to appeal the injunction were being considered. The city didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
“The city of Dallas hereby gives notice of its desire to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas the temporary injunction order signed by the court on December 6, 2023,” the city’s Dec. 26 notice said. Appeals court records show the notice was filed the next day.
Purdy in her order said Dallas’ new short-term rental regulations, which the city planned to start enforcing on Dec. 13, infringed on property owners’ rights and that the suing operators had proven that they would likely prevail on their assertions that the revamped rules are unconstitutional.
The nonprofit Dallas Short-Term Rental Alliance and four operators, who list their properties on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, sued the city on Oct. 2 challenging whether the new regulations were constitutional and alleged other violations, including that the rules illegally discriminated against STR owners and operators.
Lisa Sievers, an STR operator and a Dallas Short-Term Rental Alliance board member, told The News on Tuesday that they “look forward to showing the court of appeals the compelling record that supports the injunction against these overreaching ordinances.”
“And as we have stated many times, we stand ready to come to the table with the city to discuss fair and sensible regulations that [rein] in the few bad apples and allow the rest of us to continue to operate,” Sievers said.
The Dallas City Council in June approved changing zoning rules to ban short-term rentals from operating in single-family neighborhoods, allow only one rental in a single unit, and require off-street parking. The council also greenlit changing city code to make it mandatory for properties to annually register with the city, pay related fees and taxes, adhere to occupancy and noise limits, have someone on file who can respond to the property within one hour to address any emergency concerns, and other new rules.
The stricter regulations in Dallas came after debate since at least 2020 on how the city should regulate short-term rentals. Residents have complained for years about the lack of city intervention to address the spread of the rentals in neighborhoods mostly made up of single-family homes and some of the properties being linked to gun violence, trash, noise and other quality of life concerns.
Many Dallas short-term rental property owners and hosts said they favored more city regulations but rejected being banned from residential areas. They said they were concerned the new rules would be too heavy-handed, and would mostly impact operators who have no complaints and use the platforms as a source of income.
The city previously had no rules in place to penalize bad operators. Property owners were supposed to register with the city, but there were no consequences for not doing so. The owners were required to collect taxes from their guests, report monthly and pay the tax to the city.
Purdy in her order disagreed that the new city rules could properly solve issues caused by city rule violators.
“The right to conduct STR activity is a vested right in Texas that is a component of home ownership,” Purdy’s order said. “It appears likely that the city cannot show that the STR ordinances are rationally related to deterring nuisances, and in any event, nuisance ordinances that already exist in the Dallas city code could be enforced to prevent any nuisance violation.”
An analysis of city data by The News in July showed at least 48% of the city’s more than 1,900 registered STR operators would have to shut down due to the planned zoning and code changes. City officials estimated more than 5,000 STRs operate in Dallas.