Details of West Lake Hills’ new short-term rental ordinance

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Wednesday, the West Lake Hills City Council passed a short-term rental ordinance, completing a process that began a year and a half ago.

“We’ve been at this for quite some time,” Mayor Pro Tem Stan Graham said. “We’ve had several iterations of the short-term rental ordinance, discussed why we did it, discussed how we did it, and we’ve discussed changes to it. We’ve run it through various public meetings, committee meetings.”

The STR committee worked to find a legal balance between concerns raised by the residents in the past and the city’s master plan itself, Councilmember Rhonda McCollough said at a council meeting Oct. 12. McCollough also served on the STR subcommittee.

The STR ordinance:

  • creates a special use permit for STRs, issued by the city administrator;
  • makes those who are not residents of West Lake Hills ineligible to apply for an STR permit with the city, which should limit outside entities from purchasing a home for the sole purpose of running a STR;
  • limits each verified homestead owner to one STR permit, ensuring no homeowner can rent out more than one West Lake Hills property;
  • creates a two-person-per-bedroom limit, and a mandatory two-night minimum stay for STRs;
  • creates penalties for those who advertise or rent out unpermitted homes;
  • requires an STR owner or representative be available by phone at all times in the event of an emergency or a disruption at the rented property;
  • places the same restrictions to the use of short term rentals that are applicable to residential use of a home­­­, including parking restrictions and noise complaints;
  • creates a written complaint process for neighbors who experience and want to report problems with an STR;
  • calls for the revocation of an STR permit after three substantiated complaints are filed against a property, and requires an owner to wait at least 12 months before filing for a new permit; and
  • restricts guest houses from being used as STRs.

Assistant City Attorney Laura Miller said that after ZAPCO reviewed the ordinance, a maximum fine was set at $2,000 for violations. If it is determined that a STR permit holder is operating a bed and breakfast or hotel as defined by city code, the permit could be revoked, she said.

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