Lisa Sievers

Party houses are rare and the STR market generates revenue and millions in business

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

A small fashion shoot and little cooking shows have been filmed at a short-term rental house in Oak Lawn owned by Jamie Schield, a former executive director of Resource Center. He said some of his regular customers are buyers who’ve come to Dallas to attend a market and want a safe place to park a small U-Haul.

Prospective UT Southwestern medical students often rent Schield’s house to get a taste of what life’s like in the neighborhood. And during opera season, singers and those auditioning for the Dallas Opera stay at his quaint rental.

“You don’t want an opera singer staying in the hotel room next to yours, do you?” Schield asked.

Probably not, but the city of Dallas is debating what to do about AirBnBs and other short-term rental — STR — platforms. Some want them banned within the city. Councilman Chad West favors regulating them in some way rather than banning them.

Lisa Sievers, a Dallas Short-term Rental Association board member and STR property owner, also favors regulations. She rents a pool cabana and a garage apartment on the property where she lives.

Sievers said people rent from her because they’re looking for something quiet. And her renters don’t cause extra traffic, because she has plenty of off-street parking on her large property near White Rock Lake.

Jamie Schield

Sievers said she has as many renters who live in the neighborhood as she does renters who come from out-of-town, so she knows she’s doing something right.

She’s had neighbors stay who were doing an extensive kitchen remodel at their own home. Others have rented from her for out-of-town guests they had no room for. And some of her out-of-town guests have been people moving to Dallas and who wanted to try out the neighborhood before buying.

During the height of the pandemic, people rented private houses to get away and have limited interaction with others rather than staying at a hotel.

Unlike the “party house on a residential street” reputation AirBnB has gotten thanks to a few bad actors, Schield said he’s always sweeping the street and cleaning the yard at his property. And one clean yard encourages others to get out and clean their yards.

Schield said his biggest problem is chasing down city garbage collectors, because his is the only private house on his block.

“We all want to get rid of the bad actors,” Sievers agreed.

But if some of the rules proposed by the city are adopted, 95 percent of the short-term rentals will be shut down in the city. Or will they?

Fort Worth tried to enact a short-term rental ban, Schield said. But go to the AirBnB website, and you’ll have no problem renting a room or a house in that city.

Enforcement of a ban is complicated and expensive, Sievers said.

Speaking about who belongs to her organization, Sievers said, it’s very diverse, including older women and teachers. The highest concentration of short-term rental units in Dallas is in Council District 14 followed by District 2 — in other words in and around Oak Lawn.

But STRs can be found throughout South Dallas to far North Dallas.

Schield said his property has turned him into an employer. He hired a student to do the yard work and help maintain and clean the house. That person now works for several other short-term rental property owners and is turning his job into his own business.

In addition, Schield said he employs an accountant and an attorney in the community, supporting other professionals’ practices.

And both Schield and Sievers said they collect and pay local hotel occupancy taxes.

According to a report by the company Tourism Economics, 19.6 million Texas visitors stayed in short-term rentals in 2022. STRs accounted for $14.3 billion in Texas in 2022 and supported 83,552 jobs. State and local governments collected $1.2 billion in taxes.

In Dallas, an estimated 2,564 owners rent property. That generates $2.6 million in taxes and $340 million in local spending.

More than 90 percent of short-term rentals have no 911 or 311 calls associated with their address. And short-term rentals have no negative effect on property values.

Between 2016 and 2020, the average STR appreciated in value by 40 percent.

One argument against short-term rentals is the effect on housing stock and homelessness. But less than half of 1 percent of housing units is tied up in the short-term rental market in Dallas.

The proposed Dallas ordinance to regulate short-term rentals would require owners/hosts to register with the city annually and pay a $248 registration fee, have a HOT (hotel occupancy tax) registration number, acknowledge occupancy limits, parking requirements and noise limitations and agree to a revocation process. If not operated by the property owner, the operator would have to provide permission to host from the owner.

The new law would require an inspection, and if violations exist, the operator would be required to pay a $144 re-inspection fee.

Here, Sievers cautioned, is where the city may be jumping into something it can’t possibly monitor: Inspecting each of the city’s more than 2,500 short-term rentals will require between 14 and 28 new code officers plus staff. With training and without disrupting the short-term rental market, she wasn’t sure how the city could succeed.

Other requirements in the new ordinance would require minimum two-night stays and occupancy limits of three people per bedroom and would limit the number of vehicles to the number of off-street spaces available. Noise restrictions and registration numbers would have to be included in the listing ad. A contact person would have to be identified who could be called seven days a week, 24 hours a day and be available to get to the property within an hour.

Three citations would get an owner’s registration revoked.

No two short-term rentals within 2,000 of each other would be approved. That’s the requirement Schield and Sievers objected to most. No property within almost half a mile would cut the number of short-term rentals by quite a bit, especially in the most densely populated areas of the city.

But all this talk of regulations may become moot: While legislators talk about local control, the trend has been to strip cities of control. A bill pending in the Legislature would prevent cities from regulating short-term rentals.