The city of Austin is cracking down on people who rent out their property without proper registration. Those caught violating the new ordinance could end up paying a hefty fine.
With SXSW about six weeks away the city tracking down those who are advertising their homes for rent without paying the required fees.
Just three months after the city's short term rental or STR ordinance went into effect only about 200 of the estimated 1500 STR's have registered. The ordinance requires anyone renting out their property to be licensed with the city on a yearly basis.
"We're hoping folks will want to voluntarily comply before we have to move over to enforcement mode," said Austin City code compliance officer Matthew Christensen.
Code compliance officers like Christensen are already tracking down homeowners who've skipped out on the process.
In fact his department has temporarily hired extra staff whose sole job it is to look for short term rental ads.
"We're looking on the internet, we're checking Craigslist we are looking at all the different websites where folks may advertise their STR," said Christensen
Those homeowners are notified of the new ordinance and given seven to 21 days to register with the city. After that time Christianson says officers could start showing up at doors.
"We've found about 400 folks that we are actively trying to get voluntary compliance for so yes they are out there," Christianson said.
An STR license is $235 per year with a onetime $50 fee. One STR license holder FOX 7 spoke to says the fees seem a bit steep and could deter homeowners from going through the process. But ignoring the new ordinance could cost you a lot more. Each day without a license to run an STR could mean a fine up to $2,000 and it's a Class C misdemeanor.
The city says the process to get the STR registration is a simple one and the application process takes only about a week.