Fort Worth residents lobby city council to crack down on short term rentals

·2 min read
Harrison Mantas/

The debate over short term rentals took center stage Tuesday as residents lobbied the Fort Worth city council to crack down on what they called a commercial encroachment on residential neighborhoods.

Fort Worth is considering changing its 2018 ordinance, which legally defined what a short term rental is and prohibited them from operating in residentially zoned neighborhoods.

The city is searching for a data mining firm to help it identify the number and location of short term rental properties operating in Fort Worth. This will help the city collect hotel occupancy taxes from these properties and inform any changes the city decides to make to its ordinance.

Residents speaking at city hall Tuesday voiced their concerns that any regulation allowing short term rentals in residential neighborhoods would lead to a breakdown of neighborhood cohesion and would stretch an already overburdened workforce in the city’s code compliance, police and fire departments.

“When neighborhoods die, cities begin to die,” said Dan Haase, representing a coalition of neighborhood organizations in east Fort Worth.

Fort Worth had 1,595 active rentals in April according to data from AirDNA, a short term rental market research firm that tracks Airbnb and Vrbo listings.

Proponents of short term rentals in the city argue they provide a net economic benefit, and say hosts can act as ambassadors for the city.

Jarrod Roecker, vice president of the Fort Worth Short Term Rental Alliance, said his group is ready to work with the city to craft regulations that codify a set of best practices for short term rental hosts.

“Fort Worth needs to adapt. Short term rentals aren’t going anywhere,” Roecker said.

He suggested the city could require that short term rentals have an emergency contact who can be on call to respond to abuses like parties or overcrowded parking.

He also floated the idea of having an education component written into the ordinance that requires short term rental owners to go through training before being licensed by the city.

But that wouldn’t address the fundamental problem of commercial businesses popping up in residential neighborhoods, said Jessica Black, an Arlington resident representing the Texas Neighborhood Coalition.

Black told the council short term rentals raise the cost of rent by limiting the amount of available housing stock.

She advocated for what she called “platform accountability” where the city could fine short term rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo that collect fees from unlicensed properties.

A similar scheme in Denver fined platforms $1,000 per day for renting out properties without the proper city permit. Black said this raised compliance considerably.