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Do Arlington’s limits on rentals violate tenants’, landlords’ rights? Court backs city

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Arlington’s restrictions on short-term rentals in neighborhoods outside of the city’s entertainment district do not violate state law or the rights of tenants and landlords, according to a Texas 2nd District Court of Appeals ruling.

The ruling, handed down July 15, is the latest in a years-long battle between short-term rental operators, the city and residents who raised issues with noise disturbances, litter, parking issues and “wild parties” from some tenants. According to the 31-page opinion by Justice Elizabeth Kerr, council spent over two years discussing the complaints and possible solutions.

The city had seen an influx of rental properties in low-density residential areas, often attributed to the city’s entertainment district attractions including Six Flags Over Texas, AT&T Stadium and the baseball stadiums.

“This influx of transitory tenants into residential neighborhoods has created problems: noise disturbances, wild parties, and excessive street parking, as well as trash overflowing into the streets and tenants’ engaging in fistfights and urinating in front yards,” the opinion reads.

Leaders in 2019 created a rental zone within a mile of the entertainment district. The ordinance allows for rentals in high-density apartments and commercial property outside of the zone. Maps of properties with short-term rentals is available through the city’s website. The ordinance also limited times in which renters can gather outside the property, how many people can stay in a rental and use of sound equipment.

Five homeowners who opposed the ordinances requested an injunction that would have prevented then-Mayor Jeff Williams and the city from enacting the changes. Rwanda Draper, Mark Scott, Megan Scott, Jeremy Fenceroy and Bradley Herbert argued the changes were an overreach of city’s zoning power, violated tenants’ freedoms of assembly and movement and landlords’ equal protection clause.

The court denied the homeowners’ requests, and the homeowners claimed in their appeal that the trial court “abused its discretion” by denying the injunction. The Texas Association of Realtors and state Attorney General’s office filed arguments on the homeowners’ behalf. The appellate court overruled the homeowners’ arguments.

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