Short-term rental

After nearly a year of internal and public discussions about how to regulate short-term rental properties, Flower Mound is one step away from having guidelines in place.

Monday the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to the Town Council a definition and a set of guidelines for short-term rental within the town.

Currently the town has no definition for short-term rentals. Officials said there have been a handful of houses rented out on a short-term basis, but in some cases residents have voiced concern over having strangers come in and out of their neighborhoods.

Key pieces to Flower Mound's proposal include the requirement of a specific use permit (SUP). The SUP would be available for single-family detached homes in agricultural, single-family, Central Business District, mixed-use and interim holding zoning areas.

“The advantage of having an SUP process is that it allows the council to have discretion about whether the location is appropriate,” said Lexin Murphy, director of planning services.

The SUP would be eligible for automatic renewal each year. No amendments would be allowed for the SUP, and property owners located within 200 feet would be notified of the pending renewal. Plus, residents located outside of 200 feet can be alerted of the pending renewal, along with any other zoning cases, by signing up for the town’s Notify Me program.  

Any protests by neighbors or documented violations would result in the SUP going to P&Z and the council for review.

Only one SUP would be allowed per applicant, and the home would have to be the applicant's primary residence. However, the homeowner doesn't need to be at the house while it's being rented, which had been a previous consideration.

“By making it the primary residence I think we include a level of responsibility and personal interest to the operation that's missing from an absentee landlord who's using it as an investment property,” Commissioner Rob Rawson said. “And this would allow those Flower Mound residents who see benefit in generating some additional income by renting out some unused property in their residence … and allowing them to take advantage of that without turning our town neighborhoods into commercial lots.”

Other proposed requirements include a maximum of two adults per bedroom, plus two additional people for a maximum of 12 people per house.

The parking would be limited to the number of vehicles that can fit in the garage and the driveway.

The property owner would have to pay hotel occupancy taxes and have insurance.

Life safety requirements, per the building code, would have to be adhered to, including smoke detectors, fire exits, etc.

The guests would have to obey town ordinances, such as those relating to noise, trash, etc.

There would have to be a designated local contact for the house who's available 24/7 and can be on site within an hour.

The commission also recommended a minimum rental duration of 48 hours. Commissioner Adam Schiestel pointed to recent shootings at house parties, including one in Dallas, in which the home was rented out for a party.

“In both of those cases there were house parties with young people who rented it for one day, lots attendees and violence broke out,” Schiestel said. “I would like to see if we could put something in there to address the party element.”

To address concerns of the house being used for illegal activity, P&Z recommended adopting language similar to ordinances in Coppell and Addison that makes it illegal to use a short-term rental house to house sex offenders; operate a structured sober, recovery or other purpose living home; sell drugs or alcohol; or operate a sexually oriented business.

To add teeth to the ordinance, the commission is recommending all violations lead to a citation, instead of just a warning, and that those fines be the responsibility of the property owner.

“I think showing it as an immediate violation as opposed to a warning shows the seriousness of it,” said Commissioner Laura Dillon. “We want to make sure that the renters are respectful of the residents.”

While not part of the guidelines, the commission also recommended the town hire a third-party monitoring service to ensure the short-term rental properties are in compliance.

The council is expected to vote on the definition and guideline Feb. 3.

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