Community Services

How to register your short-term rental housing

By Brian Piscacek, Assistant to the City Manager

In College Station, nothing matches the excitement of the arrival of football season. Especially after all we’ve been through in 2020.

If you rent your home or other property for Aggie game day weekends — or for any other reason — you want to do it the right way. Starting this year, that means registering your short-term rental with the City of College Station. The ordinance goes into effect on Oct. 1.

A short-term rental is a residential unit that’s rented out for fewer than 30 consecutive days. It includes single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, multifamily units, and manufactured homes.

If you are a short-term rental operator, you must have a valid permit and collect and remit hotel occupancy taxes monthly. The permit is valid for one year from the date of issuance and must be renewed each year. The permit is $100, and the required inspection is an additional $100. The annual renewal is $75.

In addition to the permit and hotel taxes, the ordinance requires STR operators to:

  • Provide an informational brochure to guests that includes pertinent neighborhood information, how to contact the operator, and local emergency numbers.
  • Equip the dwelling with working life safety equipment such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors if using gas/propane, and one fire extinguisher per floor.
  • Maintain the unit in compliance with applicable city codes.

How to Apply for a Permit

STEP 1

Request access to the online permitting system by emailing STR@cstx.gov with your name, permanent (i.e., your homestead property) address, email address, and phone number. You must receive a login and password before applying online.

STEP 2

Know your STR type. The ordinance permits three categories of STRs related to zoning. To identify your zoning, go to the city’s interactive map, click the layer icon on the upper right, then select “Zoning” from the options.

  • Short-Term Rental I is a bed and breakfast facility located in a residential zoning district. They have specific rules that align with our Unified Development Ordinance for B&B properties, including requirements that the unit is the proprietor’s permanent residence, no more than four unrelated may occupy overnight, and no more than one meal is served daily. If your STR is not a bed and breakfast, you are not an STR I.
  • Short-Term Rental II is an owner-occupied unit in a residential zoning district of either General Suburban (GS), Restricted Suburban (RS), or Wellborn Restricted Suburban (WRS). These are located in what you think of as a typical single-family neighborhood. Are you in one of these zoning districts? Do you owner-occupy the residence? If so, this is your category. If the unit you’re operating as a short-term rental is an accessory dwelling on the property — such as a mother-in-law suite or a garage apartment — you’re required to be on-site during the rental.
  • Short-Term Rental III is a short-term rental in a residential zoning district other than General Suburban, Restricted Suburban, or Wellborn Restricted Suburban. It includes Rural (R), Estate (E), Wellborn Estate (WE), Townhouse (T), Duplex (D), Multifamily (MF), Mixed-Use (MU), and Manufactured Home (MHP). These units may be owner-occupied or non-owner-occupied.

Non-Owner Occupied STRs: If you’ve been operating the unit as an STR but don’t live there, the ordinance includes a grandfathering provision, and you may apply for a permit until Nov. 27. After that, no application for non-owner-occupied units in GS, RS, or WRS zoning will be considered. You must demonstrate that the unit has been used as a short-term rental by providing evidence that you’ve remitted hotel occupancy taxes.

To illustrate continuous use, proof of tax remittance must cover a period of at least six of the last 12 — or 12 of the last 24 — months immediately preceding October. If you have not remitted those taxes, you may do so through Avenu Insights with the applicable penalties for late filings. Please include evidence of your filings and payments when you apply for the STR permit.

Planned Development Districts: If your property is located in a Planned Development District (PDD), refer to the base zoning. Plans submitted with at PDD designation include a list of land uses that align with zoning districts. For assistance, contact Planning & Development Services at 979-764-3570.

STEP 3

Apply online. Include the proper documentation: homestead exemption (if required), completed Guest Information Guide, and hotel occupancy tax evidence, if applicable.

STEP 4

When notified, schedule your Life Safety Inspection to ensure your STR meets the ordinance’s life safety requirements. For most STRs, inspections are also required for renewal.

STEP 5

Receive your permit when your application is approved. Please include your permit number in your advertisements and internet booking sites.

STEP 6

Register with Avenu Insights to set up your hotel occupancy tax remittance and report filing. The ordinance requires that Hotel Occupancy Taxes be assessed and collected by short-term rental operators. The Code of Ordinances authorizes a hotel occupancy tax equal to 7% of the occupant’s consideration where the cost of occupancy is at least $2 per day.

On the last business day of the month after the month of collection, entities required to collect the tax must file a report and remit the appropriate amount. Failure to submit the report and remit payment is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and a penalty of 15% of the tax due for every 30 days that the report isn’t filed or the payment isn’t made.

For more information on hotel occupancy taxes, go to our STR webpage.

If you have additional questions about short-term rentals, contact Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363 or str@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Brian Piscacek has been with the City of College Station since 2012 and has served as assistant to the city manager for special projects since early 2019. He was previously a community development analyst. Before coming to College Station, Brian worked for Texas Tech and the North & East Lubbock Community Development Corporation. He earned bachelor’s (2007, Political Science/History) and master’s (2009, Public Administration) degrees from Tech.


 

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$1.8 million in federal funds available for COVID-19 aid

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Development

The City of College Station will make about $1.8 million in federal funds available for two grant programs aimed at helping College Station’s low-to-moderate income residents pay their rent and their employers keep them on the payroll.

Sources for the funding are the CARES Act, Community Development Block Grants, and the HOME Investment Partnership Program. Some of the funds are being re-purposed from previously planned programs. 

The City of College Station Community Development Division will process applications for assistance to residents and businesses affected by the outbreak. 

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

The Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program uses $475,000 in HOME funds to provide rent assistance to qualifying households for up to three months. The households are eligible for up to $1,000 each month, including payment of unpaid rent for May.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord indicated on the lease, which must have started on or before March 1.  After completing an online eligibility application, grant recipients will be selected by a random drawing. If selected, recipients have one week to provide the necessary documentation. 

Applications will be available on cstx.gov, starting at 12:01 a.m. on June 1 and closing at 11:59 p.m. on June 7.

For more information, email us at RentAssistance@cstx.gov.

Economic Assistance Grant Program

The Economic Assistance Grant Program for small businesses opens the second round of applications today with about $500,000 in CDBG funds. The application deadline is noon on Friday, June 5. Up to $40,000 in community development grant funds will be available for small College Station businesses that will retain or create jobs for mostly low-to-moderate income residents.

The amount granted will be determined by the number of full-time equivalent employees who work each week (FTE=total number of hours worked during the week divided by 40). Businesses must provide proof they were impacted financially by COVID-19. They will also need to report for 60 days to demonstrate they meet the job retention or creation requirements.

For more information, email us at EconomicAssistance@cstx.gov.

Additional Assistance

Additional assistance will be provided to local agencies working to meet the needs of College Station residents. Previously, $30,000 in CDBG funds was provided to Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul to assist residents with rent and utility payments.

An additional $500,000 in CDBG Public Service Agency funding will be available to programs that address needs caused by COVID-19, including medical, food, rent, utilities, and other basic needs. A request for proposal will be released on Monday for agencies interested in addressing these coronavirus-caused needs. Specific Information will be released when programs have been selected for funding.

Community Development staff are available to provide technical assistance to residents or businesses interested in applying for aid. If you need help, call us at 979-764-3778. Similar programs are available for Bryan residents. For more information, go to bryantx.gov

We understand the community’s needs are high, and these resources will not be able to help everyone. Residents are encouraged to contact 2-1-1 for information regarding other available assistance.

  


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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City seeks public input this week on COVID-19 relief

By Raney Whitwell, Community Development Analyst

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of College Station seeks citizen input this week on five potential Substantial Amendments to the city’s 2015-19 Consolidated Plan. The changes would allow the Community Services Department to more quickly and efficiently address local needs. 

The Substantial Amendments adhere to federal regulations related to citizen participation in community planning and development programs, along with applicable waivers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

A virtual public hearing will be Thursday at 5 p.m. You can join the meeting online at zoom.us/i/2800371990 or by calling 1-888-475-4499 and entering number 280-037-1990. 

You can mail written comments (postmarked no later than Friday) to City of College Station Community Services, P. O. Box 9960, College Station, TX  77842, or email them to rwhitwell@cstx.gov. You can also call 979-764-3778 and leave a comment.                      

The amendments to the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, Citizen Participation Plan, and 2019 Action Plan for federal funds are available for a five-day public review and comment period that ends Friday. Here’s the text for each amendment:

Substantial Amendments

SA No. 1: Revises the Citizen Participation Plan to include the use of virtual public meetings, clarifies the description of public hearings for the Consolidated Plan, and adds a section to address citizen participation during a disaster declaration.

SA No. 2: Revises the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan to include as a goal statement in the Disaster Response Plan, including policies and procedures to address local impacts of these disasters as allowed by HUD guidance, waivers, and streamlined regulations and the addition of Tenant-Based Rental Assistance as a project.

SA No. 3: Revises the 2019 Action Plan to enable the city to receive and administer $697,507 in Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funding from HUD, including $500,000 of CDBG-CV funds to public service agencies and $197,507 to economic development.

Eligible CDBG activities include assisting low- and moderate-income households with rental and utility assistance for up to three months, food assistance programs, business assistance to retain employees, and support of other COVID-19 response services, such as medical and health-related services. 

Those funds and additional CDBG funding that may be available through the CARES Act will be used for the same purposes of the initial allocations, which were intended to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.                       

SA No. 4: Reprograms $312,479 of FY 2019 CDBG funds from acquisition to economic development.

SA No. 5: Reprograms FY 2019 HOME funds from owner-occupied rehabilitation ($46,575), homebuyer assistance ($301,246), and from new construction ($152,677 ) to tenant-based rental assistance ($475,000) and tenant-based rental assistance security deposits ($25,498) in response to COVID-19 and though HOME waivers.

For more information, email me at rwhitwell@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Community Development Analyst Raney Whitwell is in her fifth year with the city. She’s also served in code enforcement and in the City Secretary’s Office. A native of Bremond, Raney earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Sam Houston State.


 

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Grant funds to help residents with household bills

By David Brower, Community Development Analyst

The City of College Station has selected Catholic Charities of Central Texas and the St. Vincent De Paul Society of B/CS to each receive $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to help College Station residents with their rent and utility bills.

The funds are estimated to help more than 140 income-eligible households.

If you need information and referrals to area resources, dial 2-1-1 for free assistance. Trained specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and services are available in more than 90 languages.

 


About the Blogger

David Brower has been a community development analyst for the City of College Station since he graduated from Texas A&M in 2008.


 


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Small business program helps retain 121 local jobs

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Development

The City of College Station’s Economic Assistance Grant Program distributed $282,802 to 16 small businesses, 188 individuals, and 101 families (households of two or more people).

It also helped businesses retain 121 full-time equivalent positions.

Using CDBG Economic Development funds, the program was intended to help prevent job losses for employees with families in the low-to-moderate household income range. In the long term, the program may also contribute to job creation or enable businesses to reach their pre-disaster employment numbers.

Additional funding will be available in mid-May.

 


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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Know your COVID-19 rent and mortgage options

By Debbie Eller, Director of Community Services

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused many College Station residents to lose their jobs or have their work hours reduced. For some, paying their rent or making mortgage payments may be a problem.

If the crisis continues for months, late fees and months of back payments could create additional burdens.

However, a delicate balance exists when considering tenant protections. Landlords have expenses that must be paid, and the lack of rent revenue severely affects their ability to stay in business. 

The situation calls for everyone to work together to find mutually beneficial solutions.

If you are unable to pay rent during the existing orders, talk to your landlord to find a reasonable solution. We also encourage you to call 2-1-1 to locate local assistance in addition to programs offered statewide.

Rent and utility assistance programs are available through local non-profit agencies such as The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and St. Vincent de Paul. Still, funds are running low due to the extreme need. The City of College Station is working to allocate additional funding through its Community Development Block Grant to programs that provide rent and utility assistance. 

If you are unable to pay your monthly mortgage, contact your mortgage holder. Options are available for distressed borrowers impacted by COVID-19, including short- and long-term forbearance options, mortgage modifications, and other mortgage payment relief options based on your circumstances.

The Supreme Court of Texas has banned evictions through June 1, and the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has placed a moratorium on evictions for residents of government-assisted housing until July 24. The Federal Housing Administration has also implemented a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages through May. 

Evictions are still allowed for posing an imminent threat of physical harm or engaging in criminal activity.

For more information, go to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website at  tdhca.state.tx.us/covid19.htm.

 


About the Blogger

Community Services Coordinator Debbie Eller is in her 21st year with the City of College Station. She has led the Community Services Department since 2010. A native of Fort Worth, Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M in 1984.


 

 

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