The city of Fort Worth denies the allegations published in a lawsuit filed by short-term rental operators last month.
The “City generally denies each and every allegation asserted by Plaintiffs and demands strict proof,” of the claims, the lastuit said.
In the July 14 filing, the city asked the 236th Judicial District Court to dismiss all claims against the city and award the city attorney’s fees associated with defending against the suit. The city hired law firm Kelly Hart & Hallman, LLP to defend against the lawsuit.
“The city of Fort Worth’s approach to short-term rentals balances the preservation of neighborhoods and the support of tourism,” City Attorney Leann Guzman previously said in a statement.
A suit brought in June by over 100 plaintiffs argues that the city is violating property rights, discriminating against homeowners who operate short-term rentals, violating the Zoning Enabling Act and retroactively regulating settled property rights.
The response argues that the plaintiffs’ claims are not valid, that the ordinance does not treat short-term rental operators differently and that the city’s ordinance allows the city to meet a “valid governmental objective.”
The lawsuit challenges the city’s recently amended short-term rental ordinance, creating stricter rules for short-term rentals operating legally in commercial and mixed-use areas and essentially banning short-term rentals in residential areas.
Most of the individuals and LLCs listed on the lawsuit are based in Tarrant County. The suit also asks the court to prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance in the meantime, and asks for the city to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.
The city of Fort Worth’s beefed up enforcement standards has amounted to “monitoring and surveillance” of private property, the lawsuit alleges.
“No one is now safe from municipalities’ prying into homes and private lives to enforce the status of not remaining in a home long enough to qualify as a residential tenant,” the lawsuit states.
The city’s response denies all the allegations laid out in the short-term rental operators suit and seeks that the plaintiff’s pay the city’s attorney fees.
The “city has been forced to retain the law firm of Kelly Hart & Hallman, LLP to defend itself in this lawsuit,” the lawsuit reads.
Previously, the city attorney’s office said it would “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit in support of its ordinance.
“It is uncanny that the city would look for retribution from its citizens for exercising their constitutional rights,” said Adrienne Bennett, board president of the Fort Worth Short-Term Rental Alliance.
Disclosure: Fort Worth Report board of directors member Marianne Auld is the managing partner of Kelly Hart & Hallman. 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.