Lewisville council approves short-term rental regulations – Community Impact

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Short-term rental regulations are coming to Lewisville after council unanimously approved an ordinance that goes into effect July 8.

A three-hour meeting featured nearly two hours of discussion between public comment and council deliberations prior to the vote Jan. 8.

How we got here

The city began tracking short-term rentals in January 2020. There has been an 80% increase since that time frame, according to documents.

Council member Ronni Cade said she went online to look for short-term rentals and found more than 170 listed prior to the Jan. 8 meeting.

During a Nov. 27 special council meeting, nearly two dozen people spoke against short-term rentals and many of the same proponents were back during the latest meeting.

Council member Kristin Green said rather than have a one-year ban on short-term rentals, the regulations would help the city manage the situation.

“I feel like it is pretty comprehensive and I feel like it’s going to knock out 98% or 99% of the problems here,” she said. “But also, if we’re talking about what are the problems, there’s really just a handful of them that are problems. I want to tackle the problems.”

The details

The regulations include a permitting process fee, inspections, operational requirements and a process for revoking permits. The regulations create a limited parking zone which can be utilized regardless of the presence of a short-term rental and clarifies the remittance and audit hotel occupancy taxes for short-term rentals. The amendments and additions include:

  • Defining short-term rental units as any dwelling unit or portion thereof offered to the transient public for compensation for a period of less than 30 consecutive days. The term short-term rental will not include a hotel, motel, or in or bed and breakfast as those terms are defined in the city code.
  • Defining property manager as any person who has charge, care or control of a building that is let or offered for occupancy or a person who is authorized by the owner of a short-term rental unit to make decisions regarding the day-to-day supervision, management and maintenance of a short-term rental unit.
  • Requiring an annual permit prior to operating, renting, or advertising a short-term rental.
  • Establishing the permit application process, including the owner not being delinquent on any taxes owed to the city, including but not limited to hotel occupancy taxes; not in arrears in the payment of any other financial liability due to the city.
  • The short-term rental unit has passed the inspection.
  • Requiring the designation of a property manager who can respond expeditiously to issues occurring on the premises.
  • Requiring operational regulations such as occupancy limitations, guest notifications and advertising regulations.
  • Violation of the ordinance can result in a fine not to exceed $500 for each offense, unless the violation relates to safety, zoning or public health and the fine then would not exceed $2,000. Each continuing day’s violation shall constitute a separate offense. If the owners get two violations in a year the permit could be revoked.

The context

Council member William Meridith said the city could look at revising part of the short-term rentals ordinance even with the passage Jan. 8. One of the speakers asked to look at density regulations that would not allow more than one short-term rental property on a street or limit the numbers within a subdivision.

Green and Cade said they understand each side of the discussion, both mentioning what this ordinance does for property owners and their rights with their houses.

Mayor TJ Gilmore said this has been one of the most contentious issue during his time on council.

“I think we had a lot of similar types of comments, about where one groups’ rights began and where the other groups’ rights ended,” he said.

There was discussion among council members about a one-year ban on short-term rentals, but no vote was taken. Gilmore said that proposal will go back through the planning and zoning commission before returning to council.

Quote of Note

“We have a relatively small number of short-term rentals right now,” Council member Patrick Kelly said. “I have this fear that over the next year it doubles or triples [if we don’t do something]. We saw a very positive trajectory going up and I would like to study more, see what’s going to happen. This makes sure we don’t have a proliferation of short-term rentals before we really fully understand the impact.”

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