Galveston officials on short-term rental owners not paying fees: 'They need to come into compliance'

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Rental crackdown: City of Galveston goes after short-term rental owners who aren't paying taxes
The Galveston Park Board found more than 4,500 listings, but 539 residents were not registered. Each owner is supposed to pay a $250 registration fee, which means the city is nearly missing nearly $135,000.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston is starting to go after short-term rental owners who don't pay taxes, but there are still hundreds of properties that remain unregistered.

For some Galveston tourists, the best way to enjoy the island is through the flexibility that short-term rentals offers.

"The room can sometimes be a bit confined," tourist Jana Ray explained. "You're really only limited to a couple beds and a bathroom. Whereas you can spread out a little bit, you can get comfortable."

"It's like being at home," tourist Mario Castillo said. "Just coming home and not having to worry to wait."

There are thousands of short-term rental options on the island that are supposed to offer more than flexibility.

They're supposed to be registered with the city and pay taxes, and city leaders are looking for those who don't.

So far, this year, the city collected $75,000 in back taxes from two owners. Short-Term Rental Owners Association of Galveston co-founder Ana Draa was happy to hear the city has started to go after those who don't comply.

"They need to come into compliance," Draa explained. "It's only fair to the neighborhoods. It's only fair to all of us who are in compliance. This way, we have a level playing field."

The Galveston Park Board uses software to track listings. On Monday, it found more than 4,500 listings.

About 4,000 are registered, but 539 residents aren't.

Each owner is supposed to pay a $250 registration fee, which means the city is missing nearly $135,000.

It's also supposed to collect 9% in taxes to use on tourism items. The owners are also supposed to pay six percent in taxes to the state.

The Galveston Park Board said this means if a short-term rental costs $100, Galveston is supposed to receive $9, and the state is supposed to get $6.

The city said it hasn't shut down any rental that's behind in taxes. However, it's not something some users want to experience.

The problem is that they say they don't know how to tell who's in compliance.

"I get pretty scrappy about it, but I don't think the average person would," Ray said.

Draa said you can check her organization's website to verify if a rental is in compliance. The park board park created a portal too.

DRAA said all of the listings on her organization's website have been verified as registered. A registration number for short-term rentals is supposed to be included in all of its advertising.

"That'll be something that I'll be asking in future rentals should I have another time to come out," Castillo said.

This way, you can verify your stay, spend less time worrying about what could happen, and enjoy the beach.

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