AUSTIN (KXAN) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday in a lawsuit against the City of Austin for its short-term rental (STR) ordinance prohibiting people from operating an STR without living at the property, which a Houston couple said unfairly prevented them from listing their Austin home, according to court documents.
The ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra granted plaintiffs Robert and Roberta Anding’s motion for summary judgment and rejected the City’s motion to dismiss the Andings’ claims.
“The City is disappointed with the ruling but hopes that the owners and guests of short-term rental properties will be respectful and considerate of the neighborhoods in which they are located. The City is committed to enforcing its nuisance regulations to short-term rental properties as needed,” a City of Austin spokesperson said.
The spokesperson noted the ruling does not affect the City’s nuisance rules, which include provisions about noise complaints.
Ezra’s full ruling can be read below:
The Andings, who are Houston residents, acquired a six-bedroom property next to Lake Austin in 2014 with the intent of operating it as a STR. In 2016, the City of Austin issued an ordinance that prohibited non-residents from listing properties in such a manner.
In a previous case in 2019, an Austin Appeals Court ruled against the City’s ordinance as unconstitutionally retroactive, which should have allowed the Andings to apply for a STR license with the city. However, the Andings claim the City never granted their application. That was reaffirmed in Ezra’s recent ruling.
In the couple’s proposed order, it states the City’s ordinance discriminates against non-residents like them in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It also asked for the judge to rule the City’s ordinance as unconstitutional.
“He gave us a win on two basis: One, the discrimination against interstate commerce, which is a US.. Constitutional violation, and two a win under what’s called retroactivity, which is you can’t change the law after someone has relied on a given right,” said Patrick Sutton, the attorney representing the Andings.
With Ezra’s ruling, that proposed order was granted.