Austin’s short-term rental market has boomed since 2015 with the advent of platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Although the city has struggled to regulate the market, a new effort is underway to crack down on unlicensed operators over the next few years.

In Austin, whether renting out an entire home, an apartment or a bedroom for a single day or all 365 days of the year, local law requires the owner to register and license the property as a short-term rental with the city. The city counts 2,500 licensed units throughout the city; however, a third-party firm working with the city has reported over 10,000 properties advertising as a short-term rental unit, according to a July 19 memo to Austin’s mayor and City Council from the city’s code department.

The firm, Host Compliance, has agreed to provide the Austin Code Department with “location and advertising data” on 3,500 of the more than 7,500 unlicensed short-term rentals. The city will begin a crackdown on illegal units through February 2020, the memo stated, which will include the code department handing out notices of violation for illegal advertising to unlicensed properties.

Amid the tightening of regulation, code department Director Cora D. Wright said in the memo the department expects to add 200 licensed short-term rental properties by the end of fiscal year 2018-19.

Earlier this year, Community Impact Newspaper analyzed various data sets that showed a boom in the unlicensed short-term rental market over the last four years, especially in Central Austin, where illegal short-term rentals outnumbered those with a license by a 4-1 ratio.

Editor's Note: A reference to short-term rental platform HomeAway was updated to reflect the company's branding change to Vrbo.