Frisco City Council discussed the elements of a possible ordinance during a work session May 18. City staff is expected to present a draft ordinance for consideration at a council meeting in late June or early July.
Short-term rentals, which are often made available through online services such as Airbnb, are lodgings offered for rent for fewer than 30 calendar days at a time. The short-term rental could be an entire house or a private room with space shared with other occupants.
“Many communities are now playing catch-up in an effort to address their citizens’ concerns to protect their neighborhoods, maintain the availability of residential housing, and ensure proper tax collection,” according to a city staff memo.
Part of the issue is that city officials have no way of knowing how many short-term rentals exist in Frisco. City code enforcement supervisor Penny Curtis told council that one estimate shows Frisco has 288 short-term rentals, but the city has no way of knowing for sure.
Frisco police identified 25 short-term rentals through 92 calls for service to those properties between Jan. 1, 2019, and April 30, 2021. Those calls ranged from noise complaints to domestic disturbances, drug activity, harassment and parking issues.
Council members were split on whether an ordinance is needed to address what they called a small number of “party houses.” The city already has ordinances to address code violations such as noise complaints, parking issues and trash problems as well as criminal activity.
Public comments submitted to the city last year ranged from short-term rentals being a property right to a public nuisance.
A formal ordinance would help the city identify how many such properties are operating in Frisco, Curtis said. The draft discussed May 18 would require short-term rental owners to register their property each year with the city. They would have to show proof of payment of hotel/motel taxes and would be required to address parking and post quiet hours. The owner or another contact would have to be available to respond within an hour to any issues reported at the property. In addition, the ordinance would give the city the right to impose penalties as well as revoking or denying a permit for serious or repeated violations.
Permits would cost $300 a year and would be nontransferrable in the event the property is sold, according to the proposal.
The costs to implement and enforce a short-term rental ordinance would be about $40,000 a year, according to Curtis.
Council Member Shona Huffman said if the city decides to approve an ordinance, it must include a monitoring program.
The city’s ordinance would not supersede rules by homeowners associations that want to ban short-term rentals. The issue, though, is many HOA rules were drafted before short-term rentals existed and do not address them, Council Member Dan Stricklin said.
Council Member Brian Livingston said he did not want the city to do anything that might make it easier for short-term rentals to operate in Frisco.
“I don’t want to do anything that encourages these in our community,” he said at the work session. “I’m not a fan of it.”
Mayor Jeff Cheney said putting in an ordinance could encourage “good operators” who would follow the rules to come to Frisco.
There was also discussion about applying the ordinance to any rental home. City staff estimated 5,800 rental properties exist in Frisco.
Council Member Bill Woodard said he struggled with adding regulations—and a $300 annual fee—for thousands of rental properties to address what is currently a small number of bad operators.
“We have to start somewhere,” said Council Member John Keating, who added he owns a short-term rental in California. “This is a national phenomenon. It’s not unique to Texas. It’s not unique to Frisco.”