San Marcos considering short-term rental regulations

The housing market continues to be strong in Travis and Williamson counties.

The housing market continues to be strong in Travis and Williamson counties.

Currently renting and leasing properties through short-term rental services, such as AirBnB and HomeAway, is illegal in San Marcos. On Tuesday, the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission discussed proposed regulations that would make the practice legal.

Dorothy King, who operates a short-term rental in San Marcos, said short-term rentals offer an opportunity for the city to show off its businesses and natural environment.

“It is very important for us to be able to offer [short-term rentals],” King said. “It’s a lovely city. Why not show it off?”

Under the initial recommendations, which still must be approved by City Council, the city would restrict people from owning more than one property that is used primarily as a short-term rental.

Planning Manager Abby Gilfillan said the limitation is aimed at ensuring the city’s housing stock remains available for use by families and those using single-family homes as traditional residences.

The city also wants to avoid a situation similar to what happened in Austin when the city initially decided to place lax limitations on the short-term rental market, Gillfillan said. When Austin City Council decided to place limits on how many properties could be used primarily as STRs, the council found that it was difficult to take away residents’ STR properties.

Under the regulations proposed by P&Z, the city will regulate home-sharing in which a homeowner rents all or a portion of their primary residence to guests on a short-term basis. The city would also grant permits on a case-by-case basis for short-term rental properties—where a property owner who does not reside on the property rents the property to guests on a short-term basis.

The recommendations will go to City Council for final approval July 18.

San Marcos' proposed home-sharing regulations


When a home is used as an individual’s primary residence, that home may be shared through the rental of:

  • A portion of the home while the primary resident is on-site;

  • An accessory unit on the same lot; and

  • The entire home while the primary resident is on vacation.


When an individual elects to share their home, they will be subject to the following standards:

  • Hotel occupancy taxes are required;

  • Registration of the home-share rental under the city’s nuisance-abatement program is required;

  • The registration number must be included on any advertisement;

  • The property owner must be a party to any application by a long-term tenant for home-sharing on a property that they own. No individual may be a party to home-sharing operations in more than one building within the city limits;

  • A maximum of two adult guests per bedroom plus an additional two adults are permitted;

  • A brochure must be available for guests and must include all emergency information and relevant neighborhood information pertaining to parking, trash etc.; and

  • The name and contact information for a local responsible party must be included in the brochure for guests and provided to the city to be posted and available for surrounding property owners and residents.

By Brett Thorne
Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.


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