Complaints spark rental rule discussion, new standards being adopted

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Short-term rentals in The Woodlands Township will see more stringent requirements following action by the township’s Development Standards Committee in August.

The committee, which oversees rules relating to property use in the township, held a public meeting July 24

to address some of the proposed revisions it considered this year, including rules for short-term rentals. The rentals are defined as single-family dwellings renting for more than $15 per stay for less than 30 consecutive days, according to materials presented at the meeting. The definition applies to properties used as Airbnb rentals, which are rented through the use of a mobile app or website.

Residents who attended the meeting said more than 100 properties in The Woodlands can generally be found for rent on the Airbnb website. In early August, a search of the site for The Woodlands showed 117 within the township boundaries ranging from $30 to $100 a night.

The meeting drew several dozen residents with questions about the rules as well as concerns about short-term rentals. The township did not previously have rules in place governing the rentals, and several pieces of legislation failed to progress past the committee stage during the 2019 legislative session. DSC rules are enforced by the township’s Covenant Administration Department, which can pursue legal action.

Complaints from those who attended the meeting included reports of strangers smoking outside rental properties, increased noise, large numbers of cars parked in neighborhoods and other behavior described collectively as nuisances. Other concerns residents expressed included loss of property value, neighborhood character, safety and security.

Under the new rule proposed at the meeting and approved at a DSC meeting in August, individuals wishing to rent their property would have to apply with the township, pay a $500 compliance deposit, and provide information about available parking spaces as well as proof of insurance.

“We finally have something in place now that hopefully we can help monitor the number of short-term rentals we have on the map, and we’ll be able to identify how many we have,” DSC Chairman Walt Lisiewski said at the forum.

Under the proposed rule, approvals would be valid for one year as long as the property remains compliant with township standards. This would allow the DSC to keep track of the number and whereabouts of the rentals as well as ensure they are maintaining community standards, he said.

The new standards were adopted at an Aug. 21 meeting, DSC officials said. They will become effective once they are recorded with Montgomery and Harris counties.

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Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of the paper in March 2017.
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