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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

1. When would I need a short-term rental permit? 
Anyone in West Lake Hills who would like to rent out their home on a short-term rental basis must apply for a permit. A permit is not needed to have guests stay at your home for no pay or if the rental is for 30 days or longer.

2. Where is the short-term rental application?
It is online here: Short-Term Rental Special Use Permit Application Packet or may be picked up at city hall.

3. I only want to rent my home out for Austin City Limits once a year, do I still need a permit?
Yes. If you are renting out your home to paid guests, even if it is just once a year, you must get a permit.

4. How long does a permit last?
An initial permit lasts for a year and renewal permits are good for two years.

5. How much is the permit?
A short-term rental permit application costs $250.

6. What is a designated representative?
A designated representative is someone who can respond promptly to a short-term rental should there be an emergency or disruption that must be handled, but the owner is unavailable to respond at the time of the incident. Each short-term rental permit application must include a designated representative form.

7. What should I bring to apply for my short-term rental permit?
a) Proof of homestead
b) Current septic license or current wastewater bill
c) Proof of identification
d) Fee
e) Completed Application
f) Completed Designated Representative form

8. Do I need a site plan or building plans to apply for this type of special use permit?
No. You only need what is listed above. 
 
9. If a renter breaks a city ordinance, will I be criminally liable?
No, but your permit could be in jeopardy. If a renter breaks a nuisance ordinance while staying at your home, and there is a written complaint, that complaint goes to the Board of Adjustment for review. If the Board of Adjustment substantiates three written complaints about a short-term rental in a twelve (12) month period, the permit will be revoked.
 
10. What information must I give my renters?
The City has created a guest information sheet that includes city ordinance, wastewater, emergency, and other information that must be given to each renter when they rent the home. This form is available at city hall in the short-term rental application.

11. How many short-term rental permits can I receive?
Only one. You may rent your homestead or one other property in the City of West Lake Hills, but not both and not more than one property.

12. Can I rent out my guesthouse or recreational vehicle?
No. Only homes may be used for short-term rentals.

13. I lease a home in West Lake Hills, can I use it as a short-term rental?
No. Only the owner of the property may apply for and receive a short-term rental permit.

14. How many people can I rent my house out to?
Maximum occupancy for a short-term rental is two (2) adults per bedroom.

15. What is the minimum rental period?
Two nights. Each rental in a short-term rental must be for at least two nights. However, there is no maximum for the number of nights a home may be rented per year.

16. What are possible violations of the short-term rental ordinance?
a) Failing to respond promptly to an emergency or disruption during a short-term rental;
b) Advertising your property without a valid short-term rental permit;
c) Renting your property on a short-term basis without a short-term rental permit;
d) Renting more bedrooms in a residence than are listed in the permit applications;
e) Exceeding the maximum occupancy of two (2) adults per bedroom;
f) Renting the guesthouse; or
g) Violating any other requirement of the short-term rental ordinance. 
 
17. Can I get a ticket for violating this ordinance?
Any violation of the zoning code by a short-term rental permit holder, this ordinance included, can result in a criminal citation or ticket based on the violation. Fines for such tickets, if found guilty, can be up to $2,000 plus court costs. Violations can also result in written complaints that may lead to the revocation of the permit.

18. How can I complain about a short-term rental or guest?
If you see criminal activity, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, any resident or employee of West Lake Hills may file a written complaint with supporting documentation to the City Administrator which will be reviewed by the Board of Adjustment. Written Complaint Forms can be found here: www.westlakehills.org/str.

19. Where is the short-term rental ordinance?
It can be found here: www.westlakehills.org/str.