Protestors decry regular practice of short-term rentals
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While many Austinites rent their homes out during the South by Southwest and ACL festivals, short-term rentals could become routine if city leaders vote to regulate the practice.
Some Austin homeowners are concerned that if short-term rentals become a year-round norm, investors will buy groups of houses, intending to rent them out for periods of less than 30 days.
"If you want to rent your home out during ACL or South by Southwest or even during F1, that's an occasional thing. You're letting someone borrow your home, and that's ok,” Jason Meeker with Protect Austin Neighborhoods said. “If you turn your house into a full time hotel, that's wrong."
The proposal before council right now would cap the number of short-term rentals in any zip code at 3 percent of total homes.
On Saturday, protestors positioned themselves outside of HomeAway’s worldwide headquarters in Downtown Austin to express their discontent with the proposal before Austin’s City Council.
HomeAway is the go-to website for anyone looking to either rent out or rent a house.
"What we do is help owners and property managers reach the public,” Carl Shepard with HomeAway said.
While HomeAway supports the ordinance, the group Protect Austin Neighborhoods fears the potential increase of short-term rentals could increase property values—and ultimately taxes—and could negatively affect school enrollment.
"If this were to go forward, as many as 5,500 homes in the city could turn into short term vacation rentals," Meeker said. "This creates an affordability problem, a school problem and an unfairness problem."
The City Council will vote on the issue August 2.