The Common Law: Rent Your Place During SXSW?

Rent your place during SXSW?

Tempted to rent your place during SXSW and make quick money? You aren't the only one — the combination of SXSW revelers and limited hotel rooms means the chance to cash in by renting space at sky-high prices. But before you do, it's important to remember that the city of Austin recently revised the ordinances that regulate the practice of short-term rentals (STRs). Owners of STRs, defined by the city as the rental of a residential unit or accessory building for less than 30 consecutive days, must obtain an operating license. Here's the answer to a few common questions regarding STRs and the licensing process:

I rent my apartment in Central Austin. I can pay for three months of my rent by renting the apartment for one week during SXSW. Can I rent it?

No. City of Austin regulations require that only property owners be allowed to apply for an STR license. Said another way, if you are currently a tenant (not the owner), you are not eligible for an STR license to rent the apartment under the city's program.

I own my home and have rented it for SXSW for the last five years. I understand the city now regulates short-term rentals. But because I've been doing it for several years, doesn't that mean I'm grandfathered and don't have to register with the city?

No. Under the city's new rules, you must apply for a license to participate in the STR program even if you've rented your place for SXSW (or other events) in the past.

How do I get an STR license?

Fill out and submit an application with the city. You will have to pay $285 in fees. You will also need to provide proof of property insurance, payment of hotel occupancy taxes, and a valid certificate of occupancy. The city also requires that you post your STR license numbers, the operating license, and the STR information packet in the rental property.

Be sure to read all of the city's STR regulations ( if you are thinking about renting your place on a short-term basis.

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The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or

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