Why the Texas Legislature should protect STRs

Photo by Andreas Praefcke

Bans on home sharing deprive people of their fundamental right to enjoy their property, consistent with the rights of other homeowners. Texas can protect quiet, clean and safe neighborhoods while respecting property rights and encouraging economic opportunity.

Short-term rentals make Texans lives better in a number of ways.

Increasing tourism spending while making Texas more open: More accommodation choices are a win for travelers to our state. Vacation rentals offer unique opportunities for families and friends to stay together where it feels like home. Guests specifically seek to travel to destinations where they can easily and comfortably stay in a vacation rental.

By protecting short-term rentals from being arbitrarily banned by municipalities, the Texas Legislature could ensure the additional money these guests spend in the state will keep flowing in. When guests rent a vacation rental home, they contribute to the local economy by spending money on entertainment, restaurants, excursions, shopping and other local attractions. According to a study completed by Ryerson University, vacation rental guests tend to stay longer in a city than they would in a hotel. These extended stays mean more money is spent in the local economy, and particularly in neighborhoods where hotels don’t exist.

Increasing tax revenue: Where applicable, responsible property managers and owners collect and remit hotel occupancy taxes. My own firm’s commitment to following local policies is demonstrated by the dedicated regulation compliance agent we employ. By supporting Senate Bill 451 and House Bill 2551, Texas legislators will ensure these taxes continue to be remitted and prevent the vacation rental business from going underground.

Creating more living wage jobs: The vacation rental industry generates well-paying jobs for employees and vendors. Local businesses often provide cleaning, security and maintenance services to our homes. These small businesses are dynamic, up and coming industry leaders in their communities that deserve to be protected. My firm pays contractors competitive living wages, far higher than the minimum wage. Our company provides well over 100 people in the Austin area with competitive careers as do many property managers throughout the state. By supporting this legislation, you would be supporting these well-paying jobs for community members.

Helping people pay their bills: Most vacation rental home owners use the rental income to cover their mortgage and save for retirement. According to a recent HomeAway survey of homeowners, more than 50 percent use their rental income to cover 75 percent of their mortgage. Almost three in four homeowners use rental income to make household improvements. By protecting short-term rentals in Texas, you would enable a powerful segment of your constituency to continue providing for their future and enabling them to continue living in their communities.

There are a couple of common misconceptions that are used to paint the entire vacation rental industry that we would to address. Vacation rentals are not inherently noisy neighbors. Many vacation rental guests are families, not party goers. These guests want the opportunity to cook together, watch a movie together, and carpool to tourist attractions. For the most part, vacation rental guests are respectful neighbors. To address the real problem of nuisance and noise complaints, municipalities should enforce the regulations that are already on the books.

Secondly, short term rentals do not have a meaningful impact on housing affordability according to Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey in late 2016. Housing affordability is largely caused by cities and municipalities not planning in advance for urban growth. Cities often make it practically impossible to build new housing through complicated regulations, costly delays, and hefty fees whenever developers seek permission to build. It would be misguided to lay this at the feet of vacation rental homeowners.

The Texas Legislature could protect an entire industry that improves the quality of life of your constituents through additional choices in the travel industry, offering an additional source of income for homeowners, creating jobs for vendors and employees of property management companies, and providing cities increased tax revenue. By enabling good actors to continue operating, the Texas Legislature would allow a good faith company to continue exemplifying good neighbor practices.

T.J. Clark

CEO, TurnKey Vacation Rentals

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