Proposed State Law Could Imperil Marfa Ordinance

 

AUSTIN, TX (Ben Caxton) — A few weeks ago Valentine Radio News reported on a restrictive new ordinance passed in Marfa to treat all vacation home rentals in the city as hotels in an effort to raise tax revenues. Now it seems, the state legislature may have something to say on the matter. Senate Bill 451 would prevent Texas cities from banning or restricting short-term home rentals. Critics of the bill said it would lower property values and allow Texans to rent houses to people who might host disruptive parties and increase traffic in their neighborhoods. Proponents say SB 451 would protect homeowners from strict local laws that infringe on property rights while still allowing local regulations that limit or prohibit short-term rentals. Under the bill, local governments could still prohibit short-term renters from housing sex offenders or selling alcohol or illegal drugs to guests. Marfa’s new ordinance requires all home rentals to post a special code for tax purposes on any web or print advertising, and for owners of vacation rentals to file quarterly reports with the city whether their property is being rented or not. The bill’s co-author said it shields Texas property owners from governmental overreach saying “Private property rights in Texas are sacred.” Vacation rental websites such as HomeAway are supportive of the proposal because it protects short-term rental deals from going “underground,” which could be dangerous, said Matt Curtis, HomeAway’s director of government relations.

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