FM short term rentals

Flower Mound is considering guidelines that would allow owners of a single-family home to rent out their house short term through a specific use permit (SUP) process.

Flower Mound officials are proposing guidelines for short-term rentals, but Planning and Zoning commissioners aren’t convinced there’s a need.

During a P&Z work session Monday, Lexin Murphy, director of planning services, presented a set of proposed guidelines that would allow a homeowner to rent out their home on a short-term basis through a specific use permit (SUP) process.

This comes as previous and current council members have expressed interest in adopting guidelines.

Currently, a boardinghouse is a use that’s only allowed in multifamily zoning. But short-term rentals aren’t addressed in town ordinances.

That played a part in a lawsuit filed against the town earlier this year in which homeowner Elaine Wells sued the town for not allowing her to continue renting out her home in south Flower Mound. Her neighbors said they were concerned about not knowing who’s coming into their neighborhood. The lawsuit was dismissed last month on a filing technicality.

The proposed requirements would be for single-family detached homes where guests are staying between one and 30 nights.

Among the proposed guidelines, a local contact must be available 24/7 and be able to be onsite within one hour of contact to address any issues.

A maximum of two adults per bedroom and two additional adults with a maximum of 12 people would be allowed at the house.

Parking would be restricted to the maximum number of cars that could be accommodated within the garage and driveway.

The homeowner would have to pay hotel occupancy taxes and show proof of insurance.

Any advertisements would have to include occupancy limits and parking standards. An occupant notification packet that includes all requirements and HOA rules would have to be posted in the dwelling.

The guests would have to comply with the town’s existing codes, such as noise and sign ordinances as well as trash receptacle placement.

There is also a proposal to provide automatic SUP renewal set at one year if there are no issues. If there are protests or if the SUP standards are not met, the renewal would go to P&Z and the Town Council for review.

Most of the commissioners said the guidelines are too overreaching.

“I can’t imagine what the enforcement looks like, I can’t imagine what the overhead would cost, the applications, the hearings, the inspections or wherever this may be headed,” said Commissioner David Johnson. “I understand there may be some isolated incidents, but I don’t see how the town could efficiently and effectively implement this.”

Commissioner Brad Ruthrauff agreed.

“I think regulating the potential few just to create an ordinance for the possibility of something, we would be creating ordinances all day,” Ruthrauff said.

Murphy said short-term rentals are becoming such a big business that the town has been contacted by multiple companies that specialize solely on helping municipalities write ordinances, enforce them, etc.

“It’s becoming a bigger thing, even here, to the point where multiple companies have identified it as an opportunity for a whole business just to focus on how to regulate short-term rentals,” Murphy said.

Commissioners Laile Neal and Laura Dillon said there are already ordinances in place to address issues that often come with short-term rentals.

Dillon suggested delaying the short-term rental guidelines until it gets to the point the town needs to take control of any issues.

“We do have requirements, guidelines and ordinances already for residents,” Dillon said. “So if we just say if you rent out your house, whether it’s a long-term rental or a short-term rental, those ordinances would still be subject to those same requirements.”

While there have been fewer than five short-term rental complaints in the last two years, according to town officials, Murphy said an ordinance like this would give the town more ways to control the growing trend.

“If you wait until it becomes a problem before you address it you miss the opportunity to keep it from becoming a problem,” Murphy said.

The Town Council is expected to review the proposals during a closed session meeting Monday. Since the guidelines would require a zoning change, P&Z must make a recommendation and is set to see the item again Oct. 14.

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