Earlier today, Attorney General Ken Paxton joined onto a lawsuit filed against a major municipality for a burdensome ordinance that imposes unconstitutional regulations on business owners.
In February, the City of Austin approved an ordinance heavily regulating – and phasing out – short-term rentals, a process by which a homeowner opens up their home (or part of their home) to a guest for only a day or so at a time through companies like AirBnB, HomeAway, and others.
While the ordinance is ridiculous on its face – imposing many needless regulations such as a limit on the number of customers that can be outside of a rental property at any given time, even more outrageous is the imposition of a 10 o’ clock ‘bed-time’ curfew upon customers of STRs. That curfew can be enforced by warrantless searches of rental properties by code compliance officers.
Noncompliance with the new regulations, or even the new inspections, can be punished by a fine of up to $2,000.
In response, the Texas Public Policy Foundation filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and Mayor Adler, claiming these new restrictions violate constitutional protections of property rights, as well as tenants’ rights to privacy, assembly, and freedom of movement.
“This blatant overreach by local government infringes upon the constitutional rights of people who own and stay at short-term rentals,” Paxton said via press release announcing his office’s intervention in the suit. “The City of Austin’s draconian ordinance defies logic and common sense, and must be struck down.”
This is not the first time Paxton has sued the City of Austin for unconstitutional overregulation. Given the City’s history of ignoring all sorts of constitutionally guaranteed rights. And given Austin’s stubborn refusal to comply with state law, it probably won’t be the last time either.
A full version of Paxton’s intervention can be read here.