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San Antonio grapples with short-term vacation rental regulations

  • Dec 20, 2017 | MyLodgeTax

Short-term vacation rentals in San Antonio are here to stay, but the city faces a tough task in trying to encourage the positives of this growing industry while balancing the interests of residential neighborhoods.

To explore the issue, the city put together a 26-person task force — neighborhood association members, short-term rental operators, and representatives from associated industries — that has been working on proposals for six months.

The proposed rules for short-term rentals (defined as rentals of less than 30 consecutive days) so far include:

  • Operators would be required to get city-issued short-term rental permits, which would be valid for three years.
  • Online or other advertisements of short-term rental properties would be required to include the rental permit number.
  • Operators would be required to post information for guests within rentals, outlining rules and restrictions and including a 24-hour contact person and phone number.
  • The city is also considering density requirements, rezoning, or special permitting.

Some of the proposed rules address residents’ concerns that allowing short-term rentals will replace long-term residents in neighborhoods with absentee landlords and transient visitors. However, according to Airbnb, most of its hosts in San Antonio live on the properties they’re offering up for rent.

Under the proposal, those who break the short-term rental laws could face the loss of their permit and fines of up to $500 per day.

San Antonio vacation rental operators are already required to collect a total hotel occupancy tax (HOT) of 16.75 percent for rentals of less than 30 days. That includes a 6 percent state lodging tax, 9 percent San Antonio city lodging tax (comprised of a 7 percent general occupancy tax and an additional 2 percent Convention Center expansion tax), and 1.75 Bexar County lodging tax.

Since May of this year, Airbnb has automatically collected the 6 percent state tax for its Texas bookings. However, Airbnb does not collect any other local lodging taxes, so San Antonio Airbnb hosts must collect the remaining 10.75 percent in lodging taxes from guests themselves and file them with the city. Short-term rental operators listing their properties on other platforms such as VRBO or HomeAway need to be aware that those platforms do not collect any lodging taxes on their behalf — in which case they remain wholly responsible for collecting and filing lodging taxes on bookings earned through these sites.

Airbnb collected nearly $4.5 million in Texas HOT taxes between May 1 and Aug. 31. As part of the deal between Airbnb and Texas, the state Comptrollers’ Office agreed to waive any state back taxes for Airbnb hosts.

According to data collector AirDNA, more than 1,700 San Antonio properties are actively offering short-term rentals on Airbnb. Meanwhile, city officials estimate that only 200 properties are currently paying lodging taxes. By some estimates, the city could be collecting $100,000 more each month if all short-term vacation rentals were paying their lodging taxes.

San Antonio’s short-term rental task force is expected to make its final recommendations to the city soon. While several steps remain before any of the proposals are made into law, San Antonio short-term rental operators need to be prepared for more regulation and responsibility.

Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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