City targeting disruptive short-term rentals

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It is becoming much more common: Homes meant for families and long-term ownership or rentals are turning into more of a vacation rental.

And in some neighborhoods, like on Pearce Road in Northwest Austin, it is causing problems. What was once a sleepy street has now been woken up.

“We don’t know what to do anymore,” said homeowner Amy Sell. “A lot of times we’ll leave, go out of town on the weekends — when we know it’s South by Southwest, F1, big events — because we know we’re not going to get any sleep.”

She said a home on the block has been operating as a short-term rental for about three years now.

“The home, the guests that stay, it’s not a family coming in for the weekend, like you’d think.”

Instead, she said it is weddings and big parties. When it is rented out, there is often loud music and cars lined up the street.

“It really affects my family,” said Sell.

“Usually on the weekends when the house gets rented out, it’s very hard to sleep,” said Amy’s 9-year-old daughter Addison. “I fall asleep with the bass — ‘Boom, boom boom’ — over and over, and I’d like it to stop.”

Amy says the owners now have a short-term rental license, but neighbors have witnessed violations.

“I didn’t know we lived on Sixth Street,” Amy added. “We live on Pearce Road, not Sixth Street!”

Austin City Council members will vote on a resolution next week to help solve problems people have had with short-term rentals. City officials say the biggest complaints they hear for short-term rentals are violations of noise, parking restrictions, trash collection and occupancy limits. City code says no more than six unrelated adults can reside in a dwelling unit.

Councilwoman Sheri Gallo said in a Thursday meeting she wants to crack down on people using the homes to throw parties and disturbing neighbors. The resolution going before Council members calls on the city manager to look into what can be done to stop those problems.

“We house people when there’s a remodel. We house people when they’re visiting family members,” said Joel Rasmussen, Austin Rental Alliance president. “That’s the purpose of a short-term rental. It’s not to have a party pad.”

The Austin Rental Alliance says nearly 100 percent of homes follow city rules.

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