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Fort Worth City Council votes to keep short-term rentals in residential areas illegal

A welcome guide with a spiral binding sits on a wood table next to a pepper grinder and a salt shaker, both made of wood. A houseplant with thin, green leaves in a ceramic pot sits next to the pepper and salt. The pictures is taken from above. The welcome guide includes a list of house rules, the WiFi password and check out list. The the welcome guide is from an Airbnb.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
A welcome guide sits unused inside of an Airbnb. The property was issued a citation for violating city ordinance before it opened to customers.

Fort Worth City Council approved a new ordinance for short-term rentals Tuesday.

The ordinance mostly maintains the rules previously established by the city. Council members voted unanimously to continue to allow short-term rentals only in mixed-use and commercial areas.

Short-term rentals in legal zones will have a path to registering their property with the city and the city will more stringently enforce the city’s ban on illegal short-term rentals.

The ordinance was finalized after about a year of debate. The council decided to move forward with these new rules in December. For months, the council went back and forth between tightening or loosening rules for where short-term rentals would be allowed to exist. The final ordinance makesseveral changes to what is required of short-term rentals operating legally in Fort Worth.

With the passage of the ordinance, short-term rentals operating in residential areas will immediately be illegal.

“We’re making this decision to protect our neighborhoods, but we’re not taking away your personal property rights,” Elizabeth Beck, who represents District 9, said. “You have the right to petition the City Council just like any other zoning case.”

Bill Schur, who is in favor of tightening restrictions on short-term rentals, thanked council members for taking on the issue — “and hopefully passing the short-term rental registration ordinance tonight, adopting a carefully thought-out, well-crafted and defensible ordinance.”.

Several speakers voiced support for allowing short-term rentals to exist with fewer restrictions in Fort Worth. The ordinance creates a property rights issue, speakers said. Michael Mayes, a broker, said the city should expect litigation if the ordinance passes.

I urge the City Council to appoint a task force which includes all sides of this issue… and produce an ordinance that swiftly and effectively routes the neighborhoods of bad actors while allowing responsible owners to continue to operate,” Susan Harper, who operates a short-term rental, said.

Council member Carlos Flores said short-term rentals have become a housing issue.

“People live in neighborhoods. They don’t do business in neighborhoods,” Flores said. “It’s a quality-of-life issue.”

The new rules are designed to make it easier for the city to cite short-term rentals operating illegally in residential areas, to give legal short-term rentals a path to registration, and to increase hotel occupancy tax revenue for the city.

Property owners operating illegal short-term rentals will have 30 to 45 days to comply with the law, said Brandon Bennett, Fort Worth’s director of code compliance.

Mayor Mattie Parker acknowledged that the city’s position on short-term rentals could change depending on state law. Several court cases have complicated the City Council’s deliberations on short-term rentals. Parker signaled that the conversation is not over, despite the newly passed ordinance.

“The city of Fort Worth is, of course, watching this closely,” Parker said. “We’re not done listening. We understand this is an evolving issue not just for Fort Worth, but for the entire country.”

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.