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Vacation Rental Owners Sue City of Austin

AUSTIN — Short-term rental owners are suing the City of Austin over rules they claim are unconstitutional.

The Austin City Council approved rules in February that limit the number of people allowed on the property of a short-term rental and bans everything but sleeping after 10 p.m.

“There is no reason for these ordinances to be put in place to outlaw what otherwise would be perfectly legal behavior,” attorney Rob Henneke said. “Watching television, playing cards or hanging out with your friends in a group after 10:00 at night is illegal if you are doing it at a short-term rental.”

–Livelihood at Risk–

The City of Austin plans to phase out rentals where the homeowner doesn’t live by 2022. That would impact Austinites like Ahmad Zaatari, who rents out a home in which he previously lived.

“If we did not have this income, it would really mean that we couldn’t live in Austin anymore,” Zaatari said. “It would mean that we would have to–I shudder to think about what my possibilities are.”

READ MORE | Short-Term Rental Lawsuit

Zaatari said he’s operated his vacation rental for more than a year with no complaints. He said he reached out to neighbors before filing for a short-term rental license.

“My first priority is their well-being,” Zaatari said. “If there is [at] any time a problem, they should tell me and I would take care of it, and that they come first.”

–Defending in Court–

Three other property owners joined Zaatari and his wife in the lawsuit, which was filed in Travis County District Court Monday. Co-plaintiffs include Jennifer and Mike Hebert, Lindsay and Ras Redwine VI and Tim Klitch.

Hennecke is one of three attorneys from the Texas Public Policy Foundation representing the plaintiffs. The foundation is an Austin-based conservative think tank.

The City of Austin issued a written response to the lawsuit.

“The Austin City Council spent many hours working through the significant issues related to short term rentals in the city, in order to best serve all citizens,” a spokesperson said. “The city’s lawyers are prepared to defend the ordinance in court.”

Vacation Rental Owners Sue City of Austin was first posted on http://www.twcnews.com/tx/austin/news/2016/06/20/short-term-rental-owners-sue-city-of-austin.html