City begins issuing notices for un-licensed vacation rentals

City begins issuing notices for un-licensed vacation rentals

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Bob Easter has a pretty big house in Austin he built to accommodate him and his wife on one side and on the other side, his mother and father-in-law.

After they passed, he decided to rent it out as a vacation home or a so-called "short term rental." Easter is the director of the Austin Rental Alliance. His group fought for two years to get the city to crack down on people renting out their homes without a license to do so.

"They were a multitude of complaints...people having parties and having too many cars parked there and so forth," Easter said.

City of Austin Code Compliance tells us that part of a new ordinance that took effect on January 1st is that you've got to put your short term rental license number on any sort of online advertising you do...like "Home Away," "Air BNB" or "VRBO."

Many Austinites illegally renting out their properties without a license have already started getting notices from those websites telling them to put the number on the listing.

Candice Wade Cooper with Code Compliance says a large number of people test the market before actually getting their license.

"Code Compliance is aware that there are over 5,000 vacation rentals. However we only have about 600 that have actually gone through the process," she said.

And if you do start renting out your property illegally, Wade says you'll get a non-compliance letter from the city.

"After receiving the non-compliance letter you will have 14 days to either stop operating as a vacation home or you would have 14 days to complete the process," Cooper said.

If you still don't get the license, the city will send you a notice of violation giving you another 14 days. After that, municipal court could fine you up to $2000.

Bob Easter has his license number posted clearly on VRBO and you can see it as soon as you walk in his door.

"What we're asking -- and we're really happy to see the city code compliance crack down on these illegal operators -- that they become legal. That way everyone is on the same playing field," Easter said.

If you are interested in getting a license, go to www.austintexas.gov/STR

Fill out the form, follow the instructions and pay the $285 fee.

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