Fort Worth City Council is expected to vote on whether to loosen restrictions on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods in late August. The Park Glen Homeowners Association isn’t waiting around to find out council’s decision.
Instead, residents of Park Glen will vote on a proposed amendment to the association’s original 1993 declaration. If approved, the amendment would ban rentals shorter than six months and require that renters be a part of a single family who lease the entire property.
“I have faith,” Susan Kenney, president of the homeowner’s association, said. “I hope that our city council will protect residential areas, but just in case, that’s what our homeowners wanted.”
While short-term rentals were practically unheard of in the area for years, Kenney said, the homeowners association has in recent months received multiple complaints about the practice. One involved a neighbor renting out the home to someone producing adult entertainment, she said.
“That homeowner next door totally hated that as well,” she said. “It’s the impact on the neighbors. It’s not going to happen all the time, but unfortunately, sometimes it is.”
Getting the amendment passed will be an uphill battle. Amending the declaration requires 25% of the neighborhood to vote, or about 830 households. Of those households, half need to vote to approve the amendment.
“Last year, if I remember the numbers correctly, we had 469 people vote in our election,” she said. “So we do have to get double the amount of people willing to even vote because only 10% of the people voted…People have to vote.”
Members of the homeowners association have printed door hangers to tell people about the proposed amendment. The association will also send out email blasts and post on its Facebook page to remind residents about the upcoming election.
Proponents of short-term rentals have argued homeowners associations don’t have jurisdiction to ban them, citing a Texas Supreme Court case decided in 2018. The judges ultimately ruled that the rules of the Timberwood Park Owners Association, specifically, were not strict enough to ban short-term rentals in their entirety, but did not say that homeowners association restrictions as a whole were unenforceable.
Texas code grants homeowners associations several powers, including the setting of restrictions and covenants like the one Park Glen is proposing. Occupants of homes within an association are legally bound to comply with the restrictions and covenants, according to Tex. Prop. Code § 209.006. Homeowners Protection Bureau, LLC, which publishes educational materials aimed at organizations like homeowners associations, said making sure a declaration expressly forbids short-term rentals is the best way to ensure restriction is enforceable.
The city released a survey intended to gauge public opinions on short-term rental restrictions in July, but it quickly was derided as unreliable by some residents because it was not limited to Fort Worth residents. Kenney said she didn’t understand why the city didn’t limit the survey to within city limits, or one vote per IP address.
Amethyst Sloane, community engagement manager with the city, acknowledged in a late July interview with the Fort Worth Report that the survey was not intended to be scientific in nature.
“We’re looking for themes in feedback that will help decision makers understand what the major concerns are, however many sides of an issue we have,” Sloane said.
Limiting votes per computer could be problematic for people who want to vote using public library or community center computers, she said, and result in less input from residents.
“We’re trying to be more inclusive than less,” Sloane said. “I mean, knowing that, no method is perfect, which is part of the reason why we always make sure we have a variety of input methods available.”
Early voting on the Park Glen amendment begins Aug. 12, and ends Sept. 12. Online voting will be available Sept. 13 until 7:30 p.m., and in-person voting will be available at the homeowners association’s annual meeting from 7 to 7:30 p.m.
“The homeowners can decide which way they want to go,” Kenney said. “I’ve heard the majority don’t want them. I’m sure there are a few that do. I’ve heard from a couple that do like it, you know what I mean? They want to be able to have the ability to rent out their home. But by far the majority that I’ve heard don’t. We will let the homeowners decide.”
Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.