Austinites breaking rules by renting out homes



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Posted on March 6, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 6:47 PM

AUSTIN -- New rules for people renting out their homes in Austin took effect October 1. Now, more than five months later, the City is continuing to try and educate residents about the policy change.

Austin's Code Compliance estimates roughly 1,000 homeowners profit from short-term home rentals. So far, 239 residents have a license and an additional 50 more are going through the process. That means 700 people could be breaking the rules by renting out their houses illegally.

Code compliance officers look for those breaking the rules on websites including Craigslist.

"We want to make sure the folks who are coming to Austin, because it's such a nice place and we have all these great venues, that they have a safe place to stay," said Matthew Christianson, assistant division manager of Austin Code Enforcement. 

It costs $285 to pay for a license. You also have to charge guests a 15 percent hotel occupancy tax, prove you have home insurance, and show a certificate of occupancy. You can find more rules here.

The Austin Rental Alliance and HomeAway both say compliance could be increased if the process was simplified. Both groups argue it would make more sense to put the license process online and to lower the license fee.

Right now code compliance officers are sending notices to violators. Next month, they will begin enforcing the rules. If you are caught without a license, you could face a fine of up to $2,000 per day. 


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