Austin Board of REALTORS® Public Policy Positions
Issue: Short-term rentals or vacation rentals by owner (residential structures leased for periods less than 30 days)
Updated July 27, 2012: :
Under the direction of the ABoR Government Affairs Committee, the Local Property Issues Subcommittee and Government Affairs Department Staff have remained active stakeholders in an effort to prevent unfair restrictions on STRs. Following nearly two years of study and discussion, the Austin City Council voted in favor of a balanced solution in early-June. In order to take effect, Council must approve a final version of the proposal, which is expected to occur on August 2, 2012.
Position: In Support.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports preserving the character of Austin neighborhoods and protecting the quality of life of its residents. As an advocate for property rights and neighborhood stability, ABoR maintains that homeowners have a right to lease their homes, regardless of the length of the lease and supports Keeping Austin Reasonable through STR regulations that protect both homeowners and neighborhood cohesiveness.
Boasting a reputation for amazing food, music, creativity, and technology - coupled with events such as ACL, SXSW, and the upcoming Formula One race, it's no wonder Austin attracts such increasing numbers of visitors - and relocations - each year. Facing an estimated 40% shortage in hotel vacancies, individuals and families have begun to seek greater personal and economic flexibility when visiting Austin. Short-term rentals deliver a more authentic Austin experience while fulfilling a unique market demand and providing Austinites the opportunity to prosper from tourist's attention by offering our homes for rent on a short-term basis.
Income generated from short-term residential leases is subject to the hotel occupancy tax (HOT). Establishing the legality of short-term rentals will increase local tax revenue and allow tourists freedom of choice. Because the City of Austin Land Use Code does not address short-term rentals, a code amendment is necessary establishing the rental of residential structures for short durations as legal, single-family residential use.
Issue: Water Treatment Plant 4, City of Austin
Position: In Support.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports the construction of Water Treatment Plant 4 and the implementation of public water conservation policies that promote sustainable and renewable water systems.
Discussion: Water Treatment Plant 4 will serve the desired development zone located in Northwest Austin. The plant will be state of the art, will cost the taxpayer 25% less in the present economy and will transmit water from Lake Travis; the current two water plants draw water from Lake Austin.
Issue: Residential Rental Registration Program, City of Austin
The Austin Board of REALTORS® opposes the implementation of a Residential Rental Registration Ordinance in the City of Austin. The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports a comprehensive program utilizing existing public and private resources that will balance the needs of property owners and tenants, and improve property values and the quality of life in our communities.
Discussion: The City of Austin City Council passed a resolution that specifically identified Residential Rental Registration as the panacea for code enforcement issues affecting Austin neighborhoods.Current Rental Registration programs in Texas and other states charge property owners who rent their property a fee. The Austin Board of Realtors® is opposed to any fees and recommends that the City of Austin, through its stakeholder process, develop a program that will empower the Code Enforcement Department and not require it to be self- sustaining. Code Enforcement is a basic essential service that can receive funding through the property tax and collection fees from code violators. The City of Austin should reward conscientious and responsible property owners and punish code violators
Issue: Comprehensive Plan Process, City of Austin
Position: In support.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports and encourages community and specifically REALTOR® involvement in the City of Austin’s Comprehensive Plan process. The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports a Comprehensive Plan process that is open to the public and will quantify the public in a scientific manner to ensure valid conclusions recommended to the Mayor and Council.
Discussion: The Comprehensive Plan is a survey of citizens asking their opinions of how Austin should grow in the next 20 years. It asks which aspects of the city are important to sustain and which require improvement. This community feedback provided to the Mayor and Council will affect the future public policy guidance from the council, priorities and the budget. It is essential that the Austin Board of REALTORS® participate as a body that will provide its unique perspective as Austin’s sole REALTOR® trade association.
Issue: Remodeling Ordinance, City of Austin
Position: In support of the Home Builders of Greater Austin
The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports the Home Builders of Greater Austin’s position and efforts to inform and educate city staff and community advocates on the unintended consequences of changing the current remodeling ordinance without understanding the impact on current and future home owners as well as builders in the City of Austin.
Discussion: ABoR opposes any ordinance that seeks to guarantee a specific cookie cutter outcome for each remodeling permit request based on the documented illegal use of one remodeling permit to demolish a property. Each request for a remodeling permit is unique and should receive the support of a municipal process that is open as well as responsive and does not place an onerous burden on builders, remodelers and homeowners. Our involvement in the Remodeling Ordinance insures that the needs and private property rights of the homeowner and the prospective homeowner are balanced against the desires of community advocates who desire strict housing stock conformity and predictability in the near future.
ABoR supports the current stakeholder process in place and will remain a stakeholder to insure a consensus is reached that balances private property rights and community aspirations.
Issue: Regional Transportation Infrastructure
Position: In support.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports all efforts by central Texas governments and quasi governments to improve sustain and build the central Texas transportation infrastructure.An outdated transportation infrastructure will affect the quality of life in central Texas.
Discussion: Today’s transportation plans and budgets address contemporary issues. The challenge is planning and building a transportation infrastructure that addresses traffic congestion and quality of life issues in 2030 and beyond. ABoR supports regional and local government and quasi governmentefforts to improve and develop the central Texas transportation infrastructure in anticipation of the region’s future needs; ABoR also supports a regional approach in coordinating future transportation and land use planning in the immediate areas of Travis, Williamson and Hays counties and encourages outreach and coordination to the five counties abutting the capitol area – Bastrop, Caldwell, Blanco and Bell and Burnett counties.ABoR encourages regional and local leaders and organizations to continue creating and revising an action plan for the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2035 Regional Concept.
Issue: Energy Conservation Audit Disclosure Program
Position: In support.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® supports the City of Austin’s current Energy Efficiency Ordinance which went into effect on June 1, 2009; the ordinance requires that home sellers conduct and disclose energy audits for properties located within the Austin city limits and whose owners are Austin Energy subscribers. ABoR supports this ordinance because it emphasizes educating the seller and the buyer, as well as allowing the recipient of the audit to voluntary determine if any the priority of the retrofits.
Discussion: ABoR commits to educating its members on energy conservation and sustainability. We strive to keep our members and the consumers abreast of new technology, education and resources as they become available. As we look to the future, we know it is essential for our membership to understand the issues relating to green building and properties as the green building movement is changing the way consumers buy and sell homes across the country.
Studies show consumers consider energy efficiency, a key green building feature, an important factor when buying a home. While energy efficiency is not the only green building feature on which we will focus, it is important when determining a consumer’s ability to afford a home. Because rising energy costs are an integral part of homeownership, ABoR supports energy conservation efforts. We also understand the seriousness of protecting Austin’s unique environment. Consumer awareness of green building continues to rise. “Green” is defined in a many ways and the definitions are changing constantly. Regardless of the many ways green is classified, REALTORS® are aware of its impact on the real estate industry. ABoR supports the Austin Energy stakeholder process and will continue to work with City of Austin elected officials and staff to design voluntary education programs that will transform the Austin culture to embrace conservation and sustainability.