PEARLAND – The city of Pearland voted Monday night in favor of regulations for short-term property rentals.
Bill Wiatrak runs an Airbnb out of his Pearland home with several elaborately themed rooms -- an escape room and his garage turned into a mock prison. His rental property is the talk of the neighborhood, which is located on Verona Drive in the Green Tee Terrace subdivision.
Wiatrak said he’s been renting out his home through Airbnb because he travels a lot for work and leisure. During the pandemic, he said he joined an online platform called Pearspace and began doing hourly rentals.
“Well, I wasn’t doing events here, but I was doing videos, music videos,” Wiatrak said. “A lot of hip-hop artists, Paul Wall’s been here, Slim Thug’s been here.”
It’s led to his neighbors’ low approval rating, like his next-door neighbor Velma Bailey.
“He’s a great entertainer. He’s very intelligent worldwide, but not here,” said Bailey. “We don’t need a Las Vegas there, or a whore house, or a swap house, whatever, party house.”
The city of Pearland took Wiatrak to court in September of 2021 for 78 violations after they said he ignored a 2020 court-issued cease and desist order. Wiatrak also had to pay a $30,000 fine.
“I paid that. I agreed that I would not do that anymore so now the only people that come over here, Airbnb is allowed, apparently,” he said.
The city of Pearland voted in favor of a short-term rental ordinance Monday night, which would require rental property owners to have a permit and undergo safety inspections.
Mayor Kevin Cole said while it may not prevent crime, like a birthday party shooting that happened Saturday at an Airbnb rental in Manvel, Cole said it’s one more tool for the city.
“We can revoke their permit, for example, if they have certain types of behavior that happens at a property, we can revoke their license or permit to do that,” Cole said.
Pearland’s city council voted 5-2 at Monday night’s second and final reading of the short-term rental property ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Hernandez told KPRC2 he opposed the ordinance because it impacted short-term rental owners who were excluded from the committee formed in 2021 to address issues surrounding those properties.
“For people who are doing these the right way, you certainly don’t want to interrupt their business and get too much into it, but at the same time, how do we keep peace in the neighborhood,” Cole said.
Mayor Cole said the ordinance the council voted on goes into effect in a couple of months and follows a separate ordinance the council recently enacted, which requires property owners to register their short-term rentals and pay a hotel occupancy tax.