DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Parties, pollution, and parking: even if you’ve never stayed at a short-term rental, chances are you’re paying for the problems they can create.
There are thousands of short-term rentals in Dallas, but the I-Team found most aren’t registered with the city. Now the code compliance director wants to make sure those owners follow the rules and pay what they owe.READ MORE: Mesquite Officer Dies After Shooting Outside Grocery Store
Aria Smith contacted the I-Team after arriving at her short-term rental in October. The travel photographer had paid $2,500 for a month-long stay at a one-bedroom condo near SMU. “I was looking for something nice that I would be comfortable staying in,” said Smith. But when she pulled up, Smith was dismayed to find a rundown building with signs of structural issues.
“All the stairs are cracked… the second floor is actually sinking,” said Smith. “You can see the beams that are holding up the second floor – some are completely snapped, some are broken and bending.”
Smith didn’t feel safe staying there. When the host refused to refund her, she contacted AirBNB and the City of Dallas. That’s when she learned the address was not registered with the city. “The person who owns this property hasn’t filed anything with the city to make this place a short-term rental.”
The I-Team confirmed that the address is not registered with the city, and the owner is not paying hotel occupancy taxes. But this case is not uncommon. Records show that of the more than 2,000 short-term rentals in Dallas, about 60% are not registered.
Carl Simpson wants to change that. The director of code compliance is pushing for new rules for short-term rentals – what he calls a “regulatory structure” over the industry. His recommendations for city council include inspections, designated parking, and an on-call agent for every property: someone nearby appointed by the property owner who can quickly respond to minor issues.READ MORE: Fort Worth ISD Hopes To Hire Teachers 'On The Spot,' Offering Huge Incentives
“If neighbors are complaining about noise at 1am we can get in touch with an agent who can respond and deal with those tenants,” said Simpson.
Simpson says it should be up to the property owner to solve those kinds of problems, not police or the city. “We need to hold these owners accountable and responsible for their business operation.”
As for Aria Smith’s AirBNB, city inspectors tell the I-Team they found signs of structural issues including several cracks in the landing and “loose and deteriorated materials” underneath the balcony. The owner has 30 days to make repairs.
Smith – who left the condo a week into her stay – is warning all short-term owners to run their businesses the right way. “You may think you’re doing a great job but at some point you’re going to get that wrong person who’s just not going to accept it… and I’m that person.”
An AirBNB spokesperson says the company has suspended the listing and given Aria a full refund. As for those unpaid hotel occupancy taxes, Simpson says the owner will owe back-taxes plus penalty payments and interest.MORE NEWS: Delivery Drones Buzzing Over Some North Texas Cities
CBS 11 reached out to the Dallas Short Term Rental Alliance for an interview. The organization sent the following statement:
“The Dallas Short Term Rental Alliance (DSTRA) continues to work with stakeholders at City Hall and the broader community to present actionable and common sense solutions to issues raised by fellow Dallasites. Our members are proud to help generate economic activity to areas of the City that do not typically benefit from tourism dollars. This allows us to welcome visitors to the City we love while helping us make extra income; helping supplement our social security, pay our mortgages, cover increasing property tax commitments, and improve overall quality of life by reinvesting in our homes and communities.” said DSTRA member Vera Elkins.
“We came together over a year ago to educate stakeholders on short term rentals, the value they bring to communities, raise awareness amongst new short term rental hosts of the City’s registration system and our commitments to Dallas. As good operators, we have also worked with the City and the platforms to root out the few bad actors.”
“The DSTRA has worked on various efforts, advocates for a simplified registration system and is in favor of having platforms like Airbnb and Expedia collect hotel occupancy taxes (HOT) on behalf of hosts and remit these taxes to the city. It is the organization’s belief that the next steps in the process should be a simplified, standalone short term rental registration process at the City and for the City to reach a HOT agreement with the platforms. If these next steps can be accomplished, the city will have the data they desire and good operators can continue to be a value add to the city.”