Local NewsNorth Texas City Leans Toward Minimal Regulation of Short Term Rentals

The northeast Tarrant County town of Keller is considering whether to regulate the approximately 70 short-term rentals within its borders.
July 6, 2022
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The City of Keller, located in northeast Tarrant County, is in the process of deciding whether or not to regulate short-term rental (STR) properties, like those listed with Vrbo and AirBnB, within the city limits.

Keller estimates it currently has about 70 such properties. According to the city’s Community Development Director Julie Smith and Keller Police Chief Brad Fortune, the city rarely has complaints about the properties.

Fortune said that recently an arrest was made at an STR, but that has been the exception, not the rule.

On July 5, the city council held a work session to discuss components of a possible ordinance regulating the STRs within the city.

Most of the city council members indicated that they wished to keep any regulation as minimal as possible. Mayor Armin Mizani expressed his desire to strike a balance between protecting property owners’ rights to use their property as they see fit and their neighbors’ rights to enjoy their own property as well.

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The common theme that arose was that the city should protect against nuisances like noise and trash violations, but otherwise keep regulation to a minimum.

“I’d hate to overreact with an ordinance and inadvertently punish the rule followers,” council member Ross McMullin mentioned.

In order to distinguish STR from other residential rental property, Smith proposed defining STRs as one which is rented for no more than 30 days consecutively to one tenant and for no more than 180 days per year.

Several council members expressed concerns about the definition but offered no alternatives.

The nearby cities of Southlake and Grapevine have attempted to ban short-term rentals. A case involving the questions of property rights protected by the Texas Constitution is currently on appeal by the city to the Texas Supreme Court.

In 2019, the Third Court of Appeals in Austin found an Austin city ordinance that banned non-homestead STRs unconstitutional.

“Accordingly, based on the record before us and the nature of real property rights, we conclude that owners of [STR] rental properties have a settled interest in their right to lease their property short term,” the court wrote. Therefore, it declared the ordinance an unconstitutional retroactive ban.

Several residents who own STRs appeared before the city council to assure the city that they have a vested interest in operating well and supporting other businesses in the city. “We are invested in not having nuisances or parties because we don’t want them wrecked,” Susie Wiggins offered.

Abby Mahoney has been an STR property owner for over three years and said many of her guests are families who come to Keller for sports tournaments. “We serve Keller and refer our guests to its businesses,” she said.

A few homeowners who live near the STR where an arrest was made expressed their concerns. They mentioned that STRs may lower property values and raise security issues.

The city council plans to hold another work session on August 2 to discuss the ordinance in more detail.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.

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