AUSTIN, Texas - Victoria Garment and her husband rent a home on Brookswood Avenue in East Austin right next door to a large, new build.
"It's designed to be a party house," said Victoria Garment.
The next-door property is one of two on that street known for revolving guests, and the issues that come with it. Both are operating as short-term rentals.
"I’ve spent the last six months documenting every single thing," said Garment. "It literally has become a part-time job for me."
They have put up security cameras and captured video, taken photos, made 3-1-1 calls and called the rental company to complain, without much traction.
Complaints range from noise and trash violations to aggressive interactions.
"One time a bunch of girls came over, ran around the side to the front of our fence, and one of them attempted to swing over the fence and hit me in the face," said Garment. "We've also had guests who have been enraged, throw stones and hit the side of our house and our back door."
Beyond the nuisance to Garment and other neighbors, online records show neither of the properties have a short-term rental license with the City.
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"Owners of Short-Term Rentals (STRs) are required to obtain an operating license annually," according to the City’s website. "This law applies to all properties, including rooms and guest houses, rented for less than 30 consecutive days."
Garment finally got eight charges filed in municipal court in August against the owners of the property next door after submitting two citizen complaints for noise and assault violations.
However, that same rental is currently in the process of obtaining an STR license, an application they just submitted in September. It’s listed as "pending" on the City’s website.
"I think that the STR department needs a serious overhaul in terms of how they vet their companies," said Garment.
According to online data from Air DNA, as of Tuesday, Nov. 7, more than 12,000 estimated short-term rentals operate in Austin.
City data shows roughly 2,000 licensed STRs in Austin. That means less than 20% are following the rules.
A notice of violation was issued for both of the properties on Brookswood on Oct. 21 and Sept. 2 of this year. Property owners were told they must obtain a license within 10 days or "cease all operating of a short-term rental until a valid short-term rental license is obtained."
Garment has yet to notice any ceasing.
"I know for a fact this would never happen in a white, affluent part of Austin," said Garment. "What is the message that you are sending to every Austin resident who works really hard, especially the people in this neighborhood who have been here for decades and generations, who are responsible for keeping the economy alive, so that Austin is now a massive tourist destination."
FOX 7 reached out to the rental company that manages the two properties and did not hear back. As of Tuesday, Nov. 7, the two properties are no longer listed on the company’s website.
FOX 7 also reached out to the City’s Development Services Department with questions regarding STR regulation. A spokesperson released this statement:
"While most STR complaints are directed to the department via Austin 3-1-1, DSD Code Compliance makes every attempt to proactively monitor online short-term rental websites for unlicensed listings. This is complicated by the fact that most advertisements do not include address information, making identification especially challenging.
An inspector must first prove the address of that listing before taking enforcement action. If that can be done, the notice of violation is mailed to the property owner with a 10-day window to comply. Following the 10 days, DSD Code Compliance will conduct an inspection to determine whether the property owner is still using the unlicensed property as an STR. If so, an inspector may escalate the case for legal action through administrative hearings or municipal court.
Code Compliance personnel have been in contact with the property owner of 1126 Brookswood Avenue about complaints associated with the address. An STR license will not be issued until those are resolved."
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