Due to the recent criminal event that occurred in Bent Tree West at a home on High Star, we have dedicated this page to share the facts about the occurrence and information we have gathered with regard to Short Term Rentals (STR) in residential areas. Cara Mendelsohn, our Dallas City Council representative, posted the facts of the occurrence yesterday, August 12, 2021, on Facebook, and is as follows:
“The house is being used for short-term rentals. There was a dice game going on and a disagreement happened. One guy pulled a gun and fired several shots. The victim returned fire. A bystander was hit in the arm. The first shooter left the scene and took himself to a hospital south of Dallas. The other was taken to a hospital in Plano. Two suspects are in custody.”
Use of Homes as STRs
The board and committee leads have researched and found this home was recently purchased on July 22, 2021 and made available as a short-term rental via AirBnB and VRBO. In addition, there are several other homes within Bent Tree West that have been used as a short-term rentals off and on over the years and we have had ongoing discussions on what we can do, as a volunteer-led HOA to ensure proper use of these STRs. One limitation we have encountered is the result of a Texas Supreme Court ruling described here:
“The Supreme Court noted that the “single family” restriction applied only to the structure, rather than the actual use or occupancy of the home. It’s worth noting that the HOA’s covenants did not provide specific definitions for “residential purposes” nor “business purposes” so the Court applied the ordinary meaning of these terms. The Court found that so long as the home was being used as a residence, the fact that short-term renters occupied the residence for brief periods of time was irrelevant.” - http://www.jgradyrandlepc.com/local-governmental-entities/short-term-rentals-regulate/
We have received suggestions that the HOA should update our deed restrictions. There have been several attempts to update our restrictions in prior years, however the original developers did not make that an easy process. To start, rather than having a single set of deed restrictions, we have six(6) in our neighborhood - phases 1 through 5, plus the Estates. In addition, they can only be updated every 10 years, each on a different schedule and we would need a 55% vote of approval to amend phases 3 & 4, and a 75% approval to amend the remaining phases.
Knowing this, we don't feel that updating our deed restrictions would help us with the immediate problem we face now. Also, the HOA has very limited authority to enforce policy within a voluntary association. Ability to enforce is the main key. Therefore, we encourage all neighbors to get involved, email your officials, speak before the council task forces, we all need to do our part to make a difference.
In regards to STRs in our neighborhood specifically, for those who are currently using their property as STRs, we encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to properly register your business with the City of Dallas. They have now made it very convenient. Here is a link to the registration site: https://dallascityhall.com/departments/codecompliance/Pages/Rental-Registration-archive.aspx
. We would also request that homeowners providing STRs in our area self impose restrictions like limits on group size and adding 2-3 night minimums to help curb large gatherings.
As your HOA Board we strive to serve this community and help make it as safe as it can be. We will continue to support the Volunteers In Patrol (VIP) program, the video surveillance program in the area, and we will continue to build relationships with local police and city officials. Be sure to mark your calendars for the Bent Tree West “National Night Out” to bring awareness of good safety measures to the area.
As homeowners, we all can take the following actions to help insure that our neighborhood is safe and our property values continue to appreciate.
You can take action by:
- Use 311 to report any non-emergency issues in regards to the use of a STR (such as improper parking of vehicles, trash, noise, etc.) and use 911 for any emergency.
- Attend the city council meetings to express your concerns as we know the city is working to formulate an ordinance. Per Cara’s post, these are the types of things we as homeowners can ask for:
- no STRs in single family homes
- STRs only in entertainment zones (to be established with none in D12)
- limits to all residential areas
- requirements of 30 day or more rental
- limits on number of occupants
- limits on being outside at night
- verification of identity for renters
- maximums on how many infractions before they are banned from STR activity.
- Connect with the city and stay informed
- Join the enews, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
- Contact Cara Mendelsohn Cara.email@example.com.
- Get involved!
- Join the HOA! By signing up at www.btwdallas.org, you can receive our regular news and updates and sign up to volunteer to speak at public forums and support the events and activities that make Bent Tree West attractive and safe.
- Attend our monthly meetings - We meet monthly and we are always open to new volunteers to help drive issues important to the neighborhood.
- Join the VIPs and help keep an eye on our community
We look forward to your support!