City of College Station hires contractor to ensure short term rentals are licensed

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) – Municipal staff at College Station are currently working with a contractor to identify all of the city’s short-term rental properties and ensure they have permits to house visitors.

Almost a year ago to the day, on October 1, 2020, a municipal ordinance came into force regulating short-term rental housing. This means that the operators of these properties must be registered with the city.

“Identifying short-term rentals can be a bit tricky,” said Gus Roman, assistant director of community services at College Station. “We did it for ourselves for a little while, and then we found out that it would just be more efficient to hire someone to come and do it for us.”

The city spent $ 12,500 on a contractor who uses an algorithm to scrape dozens of rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo to identify these properties. Roman says staff were able to identify around 80 on their own, but the contractor found hundreds more.

“They’ve identified almost 600 in the community, a few duplicates from different websites, and so by going through them we’re pretty sure we can increase compliance with the ordinance,” said Roman.

The contractor will also send the first round of letters to non-compliant properties to let homeowners know they need to register with the city, Roman said.

Roman says it’s important for short-term rentals to be registered with the city so they know each property meets safety requirements and pays hotel occupancy taxes, as required by the Texas Tax Code. .

“It’s a way to make sure we collect taxes on hotels and motels, which then go to promote tourism to College Station,” Roman said. “Through the revenue generated, we can then reinvest that in the community and bring more events and attention to College Station as a tourist destination. “

An interior property inspection is how the city determines if it meets these safety requirements.

“It’s to make sure there aren’t any properties that don’t meet fire safety codes, like not having fire extinguishers or smoke detectors. Once he passes the inspection, we will issue the permit to them, ”said Roman.

Roman says the regulations help ensure visitors get the most out of their visit and want to return. He says it will also help reduce the ability of crooks to take advantage of people looking to book a short-term rental.

“A visitor who walks into town is not going to find a property that he suddenly realizes, hey, the photos have lied.” It’s not the property he showed, that’s for sure, ”Roman said. “I think that’s the most important thing when visitors come to town. They want to feel safe and welcome.

For those who own a short-term rental property, they need to register, says Roman, it’s a very straightforward process. The first step is to send an email to [email protected] For more information on the whole process, click here.

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