Garland Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Garland, Texas

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Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Garland

Garland, Texas, a bustling suburb northeast of Dallas, has seen a rise in short-term rentals (STRs) in recent years as platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have grown in popularity. STRs, defined as rentals for less than 32 consecutive days, offer a flexible lodging option for travelers and a lucrative business opportunity for property owners. However, as with many cities across the country, Garland has enacted regulations to ensure STRs operate safely and harmoniously within residential neighborhoods.

In 2019, the Garland City Council passed an ordinance requiring all STRs to be registered with the Code Compliance Department. The goal was to address potential issues that can arise with short-term rentals, such as noise disturbances, parking challenges, and safety concerns. By requiring permits and setting operating standards, the city aims to balance the rights of STR operators with the quality of life of long-term residents.

John Smith, a Garland homeowner who has been operating an Airbnb for the past three years, shared his perspective: "I appreciate that the city has put some guardrails in place for short-term rentals. It helps ensure a level playing field and weeds out the bad actors. As long as you're committed to being a responsible host and neighbor, the regulations are very manageable."

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Garland

To legally operate a short-term rental in Garland, property owners must obtain a single-family rental permit from the Code Compliance Department. This process involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and passing a city inspection to confirm the property meets minimum housing standards and has required safety features like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.

The permit application requires detailed information about the property, including the owner's contact information, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the maximum occupancy limit, and the name and contact information of the designated local property manager who can respond to any issues within one hour.

Once issued, STR permits must be renewed annually, and the property must be re-inspected each year to ensure ongoing compliance with city standards. Permit numbers must be included on all online listings for the rental property.

Sarah Johnson, a Garland Airbnb Superhost, described her experience with the permitting process: "It took a bit of time to gather all the necessary documents and schedule the inspection, but overall, it was a straightforward process. The Code Compliance staff were helpful in answering my questions and guiding me through the steps. It's reassuring for me and my guests to know that my property has been vetted and approved by the city."

Required Documents for Garland Short Term Rentals

When applying for a short-term rental permit in Garland, owners must provide several key documents to demonstrate compliance with city requirements. These include:

  • Owner and property manager contact information: The name, address, and 24/7 phone number for both the property owner and the designated local property manager who can quickly respond to any concerns.
  • Smoke detector and occupancy limit certifications: Proof that the rental unit has working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and that the occupancy limit has been determined based on the city's formula of two occupants per bedroom plus two additional occupants.
  • Notice to adjoining property owners: Documentation that neighboring property owners have been notified in writing that the home will be used as a short-term rental. This notice must be provided annually.
  • Placard posted near the front door: A placard or sign posted in a visible location near the main entrance with the owner and property manager's contact information for any issues or complaints.

In addition to these required documents, many STR owners choose to go above and beyond by providing guests with helpful information about the property, the neighborhood, and local attractions. Some create welcome binders or digital guidebooks to enhance the guest experience and demonstrate their commitment to being a responsible host.

Garland Short Term Rental Taxes

Just like traditional hotels, short-term rental operators in Garland are required to collect and remit hotel occupancy taxes on their rental income. As of 2023, the hotel occupancy tax rate in Garland is 13%, which includes a 6% state tax and a 7% city tax.

STR owners must register with the City of Garland to obtain a hotel occupancy tax permit and then file monthly tax returns and payments. Many popular STR platforms like Airbnb and VRBO offer integrated tools to automatically collect and remit these taxes on behalf of hosts, simplifying the process.

Lisa Sievers, a Dallas-area STR host and advocate, noted in a city council meeting that many hosts are already complying with the tax requirements: "After all, over 90% of us have proven over and over again, according to the city's own data, that most of us don't get any 911 or 311 calls. Also, a great deal of us have been paying HOT [hotel occupancy tax] since 2019."

By ensuring that all STR operators are properly collecting and remitting hotel taxes, the city can level the playing field with traditional lodging providers and generate revenue to support local services and infrastructure.

Garland-wide Short Term Rental Rules

In addition to the permitting and tax requirements, Garland's short-term rental ordinance sets forth several operational rules to promote safety and minimize disturbances to neighbors. These include:

  • Functioning landline phone: Each STR unit must have a working landline phone available for guests to use in case of emergencies.
  • Annual neighbor notification: STR owners must provide written notice to adjoining property owners once per year, informing them that the home will be used as a short-term rental and providing contact information for any concerns.
  • Placard with contact information: A placard or sign must be posted near the main entrance of the STR with the name and 24/7 contact phone number for the owner or property manager, so neighbors can quickly report any issues.
  • Occupancy limits: The maximum number of guests allowed in an STR is determined by the city's formula of two occupants per bedroom plus two additional occupants. For example, a 3-bedroom home would have a maximum occupancy of 8 guests.
  • Nuisance response limit: If an STR property receives more than three police responses for nuisance issues like noise or parking within a six-month period, the city may suspend or revoke the rental permit.

These rules aim to strike a balance between allowing STRs to operate and preserving the residential character and quality of life in Garland neighborhoods. By setting clear expectations and consequences, the city encourages STR owners to be proactive in managing their properties and guests.

Does Garland strictly enforce STR rules?

Based on discussions among STR hosts on forums like BiggerPockets and Reddit, Garland appears to be somewhat more Airbnb-friendly compared to other Texas cities that have enacted outright bans or highly restrictive regulations. Garland's ordinance allows STRs to operate in residential zones as long as owners obtain permits and follow the rules.

However, this does not mean that the city turns a blind eye to violations. The Code Compliance Department actively investigates complaints and has the authority to issue citations, fines, and suspend or revoke permits for STRs that fail to comply with the ordinance.

Some hosts on BiggerPockets have reported receiving warning letters or fines for issues like failing to renew their permit on time or exceeding occupancy limits. Others have had positive experiences with city officials who work with them to address concerns and maintain compliance.

It's likely that some unpermitted STRs still operate under the radar in Garland, as is the case in most cities with STR regulations. However, the risk of fines and legal action provides a strong incentive for most hosts to play by the rules.

Overall, while Garland may not be the most laissez-faire city for STRs, it offers a relatively balanced approach that allows responsible hosts to operate successful short-term rental businesses while maintaining neighborhood livability.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Garland

If you're interested in starting a short-term rental business in Garland, here are the key steps to follow:

  • Research and confirm that your property is located in a zone that allows STRs and meets the city's requirements for bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, etc.
  • Prepare your property to meet the city's minimum housing standards and safety requirements, including installing smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.
  • Apply for a single-family rental permit with the Garland Code Compliance Department, submitting all required documents and paying the application fee.
  • Schedule and pass the city inspection to verify compliance with housing and safety standards.
  • Provide written notice to adjoining property owners that your home will be used as an STR and post the required contact information placard near your main entrance.
  • Register with the City of Garland to obtain a hotel occupancy tax permit and set up processes to collect and remit the 13% hotel tax on your rental income.
  • Create your STR listing on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, being sure to include your city permit number and maximum occupancy limit.
  • Welcome your first guests and focus on providing an excellent experience while maintaining compliance with city rules and being a good neighbor.

Starting an STR business requires careful planning and attention to detail, but it can be a rewarding way to generate income from your property and meet travelers from around the world. By following Garland's regulations and prioritizing guest satisfaction and neighborhood harmony, you can build a successful and sustainable STR operation.

Who to contact in Garland about Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about Garland's short-term rental program, permitting process, or zoning requirements, the best resource is the city's Code Compliance Department. You can contact them at:

Garland Code Compliance Department
Phone: 972-485-6400

The Code Compliance staff can answer questions about the STR ordinance, help you determine if your property is eligible for an STR permit, assist with the application process, and schedule inspections. They can also investigate complaints and enforce the city's STR regulations.

In addition to the Code Compliance Department, you may also find helpful information and resources through the Garland Chamber of Commerce, local real estate investing groups, and online STR host forums.

What do Airbnb hosts in Garland on Reddit and BiggerPockets think about local regulations?

On real estate investing forums like BiggerPockets and Reddit, Garland STR hosts and prospective investors have shared a range of perspectives on the city's short-term rental regulations. Here are a few examples:

  • Lisa Sievers, a Dallas-area STR host who has been active in advocating for reasonable regulations, shared her view at a city council meeting: "After all, over 90% of us have proven over and over again, according to the city's own data, that most of us don't get any 911 or 311 calls. Also, a great deal of us have been paying HOT [hotel occupancy tax] since 2019."
  • A new investor on BiggerPockets expressed interest in the Garland market: "I'm currently in LA, CA and I'm looking into investing in Garland, Texas...This would be my first rental property and I would like to hear opinions from people who have or are investing in the area."
  • An excerpt from a Garland County business guide shared on Reddit noted: "The county has no specific zoning regulations that would limit the locations of short term rentals and vacation rentals."
  • A Garland host on Reddit cautioned others to carefully review the city's rules: "Make sure you understand the permitting process and occupancy limits. The city does enforce the regulations, so it's important to do everything by the book."
  • Another BiggerPockets user shared their positive experience with the city: "I've been operating an Airbnb in Garland for two years now and have found the Code Compliance staff to be very helpful. As long as you follow the rules and are responsive to any issues, it's a great market."

Overall, while hosts acknowledge that Garland does regulate short-term rentals, many appreciate that the city's approach is more balanced and reasonable compared to some other Texas cities that have banned or severely restricted STRs. The key themes are to thoroughly understand and comply with the local rules, be a responsible host and neighbor, and take advantage of the strong demand for STRs in the Dallas area.

As the STR industry continues to evolve, it's likely that Garland and other cities will continue to refine their regulations to strike the right balance between supporting this growing market and protecting neighborhood quality of life. By staying informed and engaged, hosts can help shape these policies and ensure a sustainable future for short-term rentals in Garland and beyond.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.