The city of San Antonio is implementing tighter restrictions on owners of short-term rental properties.

What happened?

City Council on June 13 voted unanimously to approve recommendations forwarded by a task force made up of representatives from the Short Term Rental Association of San Antonio, the San Antonio Apartment Association, Airbnb, as well as housing advocates and other stakeholders.

Newly adopted revisions to the short-term rental ordinance include:
  • Requiring STR property owners who live on site to pay a $300 three-year permit, which previously was $100.
  • Requiring STR property owners who do not live on site to pay a $450 three-year permit.
  • Mandate that online platforms such as Airbnb remove listings without a legitimate permit number
  • Apply a one-year penalty on subsequent applications for providing false/misleading information
  • Add required quiet hours notice to all guests at STRs
  • Create alternative paths in addition to existing criminal enforcement to bring properties into compliance, including expanding a window for citations to accrue from six months to three years, before a permit is revoked. During fiscal year 2022-23, the city revoked 1,366 permits for delinquent tax payments and other violations.
  • STR platforms will now take responsibility for remitting the city’s hotel occupancy taxes imposed on STR owners. Previously, property owners were responsible for paying such taxes to the city and Bexar County on a monthly basis.
A closer look

Local officials said these and other enhancements approved by council are designed to streamline the permitting and administration of the STR ordinance, increase permit and hotel occupancy tax compliance, and provide more tools for nuisance abatement.

According to city data, there were 2,954 active, permitted short-term rentals inside San Antonio city limits as of April 16, most of which are located in and around downtown.

Of these, 698 STRs are occupied by the property owner, and the rest have a property owner who lives off site. City officials estimated another 1,110 STRs are in operation without a permit. The city’s permit compliance rate is 73%.

District 2 council member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez said higher permit fees could help the city better grapple with short-term rental property owners who tend to be off-site investors or businesses.

McKee-Rodriguez said, in the last few years, many STR owners have displaced constituents by buying up properties across his east side council district, which abuts the downtown area.

City officials said the higher permit fees will help to hire a code compliance officer dedicated to covering STRs.

"We need to make it less profitable for profit-seeking companies to take a scarce resource, such as housing, and pimp it out as a small-scale hotel business instead of renting it to families in our community,” McKee-Rodriguez said.

District 5 council member Teri Castillo represents a west side district abutting downtown. She said STRs have adversely affected San Antonio’s affordable housing supply, although San Antonio Board Of Realty officials recently described San Antonio’s overall housing inventory as balanced.

Castillo initially proposed raising STR permit fees to nearly $1,000 but later opted to support the fees adopted by council.

The takeaways

According to some council members, more and more of their constituents complain about short-term rentals in their neighborhood, but city leaders said they can only regulate—not ban—STRs.

A federal court in 2023 struck down Austin’s efforts to restrict STRs, especially those operated by off-site property owners or companies.

Shelley Galbraith, a local STR operator who chairs the Short Term Rental Association of San Antonio, said she and her counterparts backed nearly all of the updated regulations except for the permit fee hikes. Galbraith said such increases may not be consistent with STR owners’ rising operating costs.

"Differentiated fees could also incentivize noncompliance,” Galbraith said.