ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – When it comes to booking vacations, short-term rentals can offer chic accommodations at an affordable price.
But some North Texas residents say that convenience comes with consequences.
Home surveillance footage from a property owner shows an out-of-state house packed to the brim with partiers, leaving behind a trail of property destruction and noise complaints. Some people would consider this a worst-case scenario that’s feasible anywhere.
But to understand the complex impact of short-term rentals in the Metroplex, there’s no better place to look than Arlington.
Neighbors living in the shadow of AT&T Stadium said now they’ve now been eclipsed by another force: short-term rentals.
“That’s an Airbnb, right behind us is an Airbnb, behind those houses is an Airbnb,” said Teresa Saucedo, who has lived in the Entertainment District for 29 years.
While much of Arlington is now off-limits to Airbnb or Vrbo, Saucedo’s neighborhood is still fair game.
Of the 31 short-term rentals permitted to operate by the city, all but five are located in a special STR zone that surrounds the Entertainment District.
“It’s really not a home environment anymore,” Saucedo said. “Actually they control us, is what it is.”
Kristi Abernathy said last summer, she awoke to the sounds of someone vomiting in her yard. Abernathy and her family live next door to an Airbnb.
“I’d prefer to have someone next door to me that could be a neighbor,” Abernathy said.
But last year, the city started cracking down.
Since October, code compliance has issued 148 citations for properties illegally operating or advertising as a short-term rental, according to Susan Schrock, a spokeswoman for the city of Arlington.
Schrock added that 79 properties that have removed their ads, received their permit, or changed operations to a long-term rental since enforcement began.
Not everyone is against the rental market.
Arlington homeowner Lisa Wangler said as the operators of vacation rentals improve their properties, they also improve and beautify the community.
“If that’s what you want to do with your home, that’s your right,” said Wangler, who added she’s never dealt with any noise disturbances or bad encounters involving renters.
Arlington is just one of many North Texas cities grappling with regulations.
Hurst, Highland Park and Southlake banned short term rentals altogether.
Plano faced scrutiny after a teenager was shot and killed at a party taking place at a rental home listed on various sites.
When the state legislature failed to act in 2019, lawmakers left behind a patchwork of local policies.
“We’re trying to work together as a council to resolve an issue that was kind of tearing the city apart,” said Arlington City Councilwoman Helen Moise, who represents constiuents in the Entertainment District.
“Many of the residents over there thought their property would become commercial. It has not. It probably won’t for a long time. So it gives them use for that property other than a single family residence as they wait to see with what happens,” said Moise, who echoed the sentiment that STRs have given homeowners the opportunity to improve their properties.
But the idea of “waiting and seeing” is more than some residents can bear.
“If the mayor of Arlington lived here, he wouldn’t put up with this,” said Dorene Leonard, an Arlington resident.
Under the new regulations, short-term rentals can exist inside a special zone that encompasses much of the Entertainment District, regardless of zoning.
Outside the special zone, short-term rentals are permitted in certain multi-family housing structures and non-residential zoning districts where the structure is a residential structure.
Basically, STRs cannot operate in single-family residential homes outside the special zone.
The city gave several operators until January 31 to remove unauthorized listings from online websites.
Some cities have started working with a third-party company to oversee compliance issues.
The company Host Compliance is working with more than a dozen Texas cities. Neighbors can report violations to a 24/7 call center or online portal, along with photos, videos or any additional evidence. Host Compliance then sends that information to the city and asks the property operator to deal with the issues.
The city of Arlington is currently inspecting short-term rental properties, but Schrock said it does intend to partner with “a third-party vendor that will be able to offer a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report violations and concerns about short-term rentals.”
For complaints about any current short-term rental, neighbors can contact the city of Arlington’s call center at 817-459-6777 or report an issue online.
A spokesperson for Airbnb released the following statement:
“At Airbnb, we take our impact on cities very seriously. Our goal is to partner with cities to develop home sharing rules that help them achieve their desired goals, including preventing negative impacts on neighborhoods. Home sharing also provides valuable supplemental income that helps many Texas residents pay important bills, and in some cases stay in their homes.”
A spokesperson for Vrbo, which is owned by Expedia Group, released the following statement that reads in part:
“Vacation rentals have long been a vital option for traveling families coming to the Dallas area. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Vrbo travelers are families with kids who value staying together so they can spend time with the ones they love. The average customer booking on Vrbo is a 50 year-old-female traveling with a family of four and is interested in the quiet enjoyment of the property she rents for her family. Vrbo is also a power option for local residents looking to utilize their homes to make ends meet, send their kids to school, and save for retirement. A majority of owners use rental income to cover their mortgage.
Vrbo believes fair and effective policies can be found through compromise and collaboration. Across the country, Vrbo works with community stakeholder to develop policies that address community concern while allowing responsible homeowners to rent their homes. Our Whole Home, Whole Community framework was built after nearly two years of collaboration with elected officials and community members. We’ve worked openly with cities as disparate as Seattle, San Antonio and Louisville to pass fair and effective rules.
On the issue of housing, Expedia Group recently worked with internationally respected research firm to understand the impact vacation rentals have on American cities. The report looked at over 2,500 counties, over the course of 4 years and exploring over 70 variables. This new research concludes that vacation rentals have had a minimal impact on housing and rent prices, and as such, over-regulation of vacation rentals would have a minimal impact on housing affordability issues. You can find the full report and highlights here.“
Here is a list of short-term rental permits issued by the City of Arlington as of January 31: