Bellaire considering restrictions of short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb, VRBO

Some Bellaire residents are frustrated with the short-term rental prosperities in their neighborhood

BELLAIRE – The city of Bellaire is considering an ordinance that would put limits on homeowners who want to rent out their own property.

The proposed restrictions come as some homeowners complain the “City of Homes” is turning into a city of hotels with an uptick in homes being listed for rent on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

“We did not bargain to live next to a Holiday Inn,” said resident Jamie Siff Perkins, who spoke during a May city council meeting about problems with a neighboring home being used as a frequent Airbnb rental. “It has been a revolving door that has people in and out of that house. They’re charging between $400 to 450 a night for their house and they rent it to whoever can pay. A significant rise in noise, trash, and a significant uptick in traffic. My young children have been woken up all hours of the night. They’re rude, they’re disrespectful. It’s awful.”

The ordinance proposed by Bellaire city councilmembers Catherine Lewis and Jim Hotze would create a minimum six-month term for rental or lease of single-family homes with an exception for family members or previous/former owners.

“We consider Bellaire the ‘city of homes,’ and to have a hotel next to you is something we don’t think is something somebody should have to put up with,” Hotze said during the May 17 meeting.

Some homeowners say the ordinance would infringe on their rights.

“There are other reasons people rent out their homes for short term, it’s not just speculating or investing. You’re going to limit the rights of every single homeowner in Bellaire because of a few instances. It’s a big overreaction,” Brian Taylor told council members.

Cathy Doughty has owned her Bellaire home for 34 years and offers a private room and guest house for rent on Airbnb.

“It’s really been a tremendous experience. I have never had a circumstance or a situation,” she said.

She says she was shocked when she learned of the proposed ordinance.

“It’s inappropriate for the city to get involved. The city council or anybody else should not be involved in Bellaire resident’s ability to generate revenue. It is not principled, it is not on the merits,” Doughty told KPRC 2.

Other homeowners who also lease homes, but for longer terms, said they support the ordinance.

“I think that having an ordinance that would limit the short-term rentals would actually be beneficial for our community,” said Pranika, who owns two homes in Bellaire and leases one for long-term rentals.

“It’s a very familiar neighborhood, and you can’t always keep that type of atmosphere with short-term renters. When you have longer-term renters, they’re not the type to just party, litter, and leave,” she said.

The mayor of Bellaire is calling for more research before moving forward.

“Let’s look at this, but look at it with an open mind and be prepared to come up with something that is actually enforceable and is actually going to accomplish something, other than just buying us a lawsuit,” said Mayor Andrew Friedberg.

The city also plans to review the short-term rental ordinance instituted by neighboring West University Place in 2018.

Interim city manager Brant Gary told KPRC 2 the matter could be back on the council’s agenda by July or August.