Austin Short Term Rentals: A Comprehensive Hosting Guide

Short Term Rental in Austin Airbnb

Austin Archuleta

February 20, 2022

A visit to Texas is never complete without visiting its capital, Austin. The City is full of lively events, delicious cuisines, and stunning art galleries. It’s also among the exciting destinations in the U.S due to events like Austin City Limits and countless live music venues. 

As the popularity of Austin city explodes, so has the vacation rentals and unique Airbnbs. With many options available, deciding where to stay can be bewildering for guests. The short-term rentals in Austin take many forms and shapes, from a funky farmhouse to a vintage Airstream trailer and opulent Spanish-style villa. 

The “Music Capital of the World” gives you a myriad of choices for your STR investment. We discuss below strategies & tips for selecting, starting, and running your Short Term Rental in Austin. Additionally, the guide provides the rules and jurisdiction of hosting Airbnbs in Austin. 

Let’s get started! 

Types of Short Term Rentals in Austin

There are three types of short-term rentals in Austin, and each type comes with its rules and regulations. These types include:

Owner-Occupied STRs

These types of STRs are associated or owned with an owner-occupied principal residence. It can include the entire property of only part of the dwelling unit. The minimum features include a sleeping room with a shared full bathroom. However, these rentals are limited to a single party of individuals, with the owner present during rental moments. 

With the owner-occupied Airbnbs, the owner must present documentation to show that the property is owner-occupied. Therefore, the ownership information must match the deed as recorded with the Williamson County Clerk’s office in Austin. 

Not-Owner Occupied (Duplex or Single-Family) 

These short-term rentals are not owner-occupied, and there are single-family or duplex properties. And as with the owner-occupied rentals, the ownership information must match the deed recorded with the Williamson or Travis County Clerk’s office. 

Suppose the property under this section received a notice of violation related to public safety, life, or health. In that case, the property will be inspected every three years to ensure it doesn’t pose a hazard to public safety and health. 

The single-family rentals should not be located in a lot within 1,000 feet of another single-family lot. However, this can only happen if:

  • The license was issued before or on November 23, 2015. 
  • The license is renewed timely, and
  • The license was not suspended or canceled after November 23, 2015. 

The structure should have a valid certificate of occupancy as required by the local government. But the Certificate of Compliance and Occupancy is only valid if it was issued not more than ten years before the application date. 

Not Owner-Occupied (Multifamily)

These short-term rentals are not owner-occupied but part of a multifamily use property. They include properties like condominiums and apartments. It consists of the rental of an entire dwelling. The owners’ documentation must indicate the number of buildings and units on the property. Besides, the owner is required to comply with the geographical caps. 

With this type of short-term rental, you cannot operate without a license. In addition, the Austin Water Utility will also inspect to ensure the system complies with private sewage facilities. 

The license issued under this STR is valid for 12 months from the date of issuance. Therefore, the property should not be subjected to outstanding state law violations or City Code. 

The director provides information regarding restrictions applicable to STR use, such as:

  • Occupancy limits
  • Contact information and name of the local contact
  • Restrictions on noise, including limitations on the use of amplifiers
  • Information of relevant bans and water restrictions
  • parking restrictions

As an operator or licensee of a short-term rental, you must provide renters with a copy of the information regarding the property. 

The Rules of Short Term Rentals in Austin, Texas

Hosting Airbnb in Austin is quite a straightforward process. However, you must familiarize yourself with the City’s laws. It’s also wise to consult a local tax professional or lawyer to offer more guidance for a successful Airbnb business. 

But the basic Austin Airbnb rules include:

  • In Austin, owners of STRs (Short-Term Rentals) should obtain an operating license yearly. According to Austin City, an STR is renting an accessory building or residential unit for less than 30 consecutive days. This law applies to all properties, including guesthouses and rooms.  
  • The host pays a $624.00 non-refundable application fee to the City of Austin. You can make payments in cash, check, or money order. The breakdown of the application fee is as follows;
  • $572.00 is an application fee
  • $2.00 is for the DSD Technology fee
  • $50.00 is for notification fee

The technology fee supports the City’s AMANDA (Application Management and Data Automation) system. It also helps in maintaining existing hardware, systems, and software. 

  • You must also provide proof of the property insurance. 
  • You should also have proof of payment for hotel occupancy taxes. 
  • Obtain the Certificate of Occupancy from the DSD
  • The 3rd Party Agents must have Notarized authorization from original owners permitting them to manage the rentals.  

Renewing the License

The license is renewable annually, where you pay a $355.00 non-refundable fee. More so, the permit should get renewed before its expiry date. 

If the ownership and the short-term rental’s street address have changed, you should submit a new application. However, if the previous application information has also changed, send the information in a letter without making a new application. 

How to Start Hosting a Short Term Rental in Austin

Airbnb hosting has revolutionized traveling and staycations. Before introducing the vacation rental, people used to spend in hotels, which might have been expensive. In addition, some lack the privacy a vacation rental in Austin can give you. 

The STR business is lucrative, and it comes with a rich experience. But it also needs commitment and adherence to rules and regulations governing this venture. If you want to start Airbnb hosting in Austin, this guide gives you tips on starting short-term rentals in the City of Austin. 

Research and Create a Business Plan

Always research and plan before taking action. Start by writing a mission statement to give you the right mindset to begin the business. Next, a business plan will outline how you want to operate the business. 

Besides, have a realistic budget because fixing up or purchasing a property for Airbnb is a considerable investment. More so, you need to factor in insurance costs and taxes. 

Then think about your target market and the kind of guests to host. There is a wide array of target markets in Austin, Texas: pet owners, large groups, luxury travelers, solo travelers, families, and many others. 

Invest in Your Property

The concept of vacation rental in Austin, Texas, has gained momentum in recent years. But investing in STR requires a keen understanding of the projected revenue and local Austin Airbnb market. 

Give a closer look at ebbs and flows of demand. Remember, the income generated depends on the season. Our team of knowledgeable real estate consultants are here to help & strategize. Start by connecting with a local expert. We’ll match you with a local real estate advisor who knows your market best.

The house rental business in Austin, TX, faces stiff competition. So, short-term rentals (STR) owners are going beyond the norm to make the rentals attractive. Consider renovating the home as it can help you charge a higher price. In addition, turn your Airbnb into something inspiring. 

Keep the décor (both interior and exterior) neutral. If you decide to paint your homes red, you can scare off conservative guests. 

Obtain an Operating License

You start by filling out an STR application online. Austin requires the summary pages of the home insurance. Your driver’s license is also required and should have the current address. 

The occupancy rates at Austin are maintained at 11%, comprising 2% venue project tax and 9% occupancy tax. Besides, you must obtain a certificate of occupancy, which verifies that your rental is safe. You can either file it online or visit the City’s office. Finally, create a free hotel tax account to pay quarterly tax. 

Bring a fee of 572.00 either in cash, check, or card. Once accepted, you’ll get your license within 30 days. 

Once you obtain permits and licenses, the next step is to get insurance. The third-party insurance policy offers extra protection. Finally, define your brand to define your vocational rental business clearly. The brand also builds loyalty and trust. 

Finally, create an easy-to-navigate business website. Then, update it with clear photos of the homes, amenities offered, residential neighborhood, safety features, and prices. 

Be Transparent When Describing Your Listing 

Avoid sounding like an advertisement when describing your rentals. Instead, make it personal and honest. Let your potential guests know what to expect by listing the best features. Also include some less-than-ideal factors like the road conditions and the property’s proximity to major roads and restaurants. 

Include plenty of photos of your Airbnb. Although you may include pictures of the neighborhoods, ensure most images are of your rental. More so, take pictures of essential areas and amenities. It helps guests in deciding where to stay. 

Consider the Basics of Short Term Rental Hosting

Airbnb Austin short-term rental should provide basics to the guests. Ensure you offer bathroom essentials, including body and hand wash, shampoos, and paper towels. Don’t forget to supply blankets, pillows, and linens for each guest. Leave the contact information where guests can see it easily. 

Have Some Measures in Place

When starting an Airbnb business, having some measures in place will go a long way. Consider having local guidebooks in your rental. It will help clients figure out what Airbnb activity they can do. It could be shopping, getting meals, and other activities. 

More so, ensure you’re not breaking any local laws. 

You can ensure you always assist the guest before they leave your Airbnb. This is to ensure there are no breakages and damages to the property. 

Responsible Hosting in Austin

As a host, you need to think carefully about your responsibilities towards your clients. Hosting comes with a certain level of commitment. To create comfortable and reliable stays for guests, you need to meet some basic requirements, such as:

  • Ensure you’re actively responsive to trip requests and inquiries within 24 hours. 
  • Take cancellations seriously and avoid them at all costs. They inconvenience guests and can lead to negative reviews. 
  • Make your clients feel welcome and safe. 
  • Maintain consistency 
  • Ensure you provide essential amenities, like towels, pillows, body and hand soap, and linens. 

Besides the basic requirements, there are other ways you can be a reliable, responsible host.

  • Cleanliness and Health 

Being a host requires you to maintain a certain level of cleanliness. Use safe detergents, and you can also ask your guests if they’re reactive to certain cleaning chemicals. 

  • Safety 

Provide local energy numbers, your contact numbers, and the nearest hospitals. Make it clear how you should get contacted if issues arise. More so, you should make the first aid kit readily available. 

The carbon monoxide and smoke alarm detector should be functional. Your property should also meet the City’s safety guidelines. Besides, the local government might have a policy to establish safe occupancy limits. 

Ensure you’re mindful of the guests’ privacy and fully disclose if there are surveillance cameras and equipment. 

  • Reduce Hazards 

Ensure your vacation rentals in Austin offer maximum safety. Go through the property to identify areas your guests might fall or trip. More so, ensure stairs have railings, or they’re not slippery. Mark the location or remove the hazard. 

Vacation rentals should also be safe for pets and children. Ensure the home is well ventilated and has air conditioning. Ensure guests use all appliances properly to avoid accidents, such as fire or injuries. 

  • Be Mindful of the Surrounding Neighborhood

You may even want to inform your neighbors that your home will have guests. On the other hand, ensure your guests maintain peace and order if you don’t allow smoking, post signs to notify guests. And in case you don’t prohibit smoking, providing ashtrays in designated areas would be ideal. 

If you allow pets, educate your guests about local customs and parks. You can also develop a policy about noise, parking rules, and whether you allow pets, babies, and parties. And finally, have a backup plan if a pet or complaint distresses the neighbors. 

Factors to Consider When Investing in Airbnb in Austin City 

Investing in Airbnb in Austin is a lucrative business, but you should approach it with caution. Apart from obtaining the license, you also need to consider critical facets. This guide will provide the features to consider and the best places for Airbnb Austin monthly rentals. 

The truth is, if you don’t have an unbeatable location and panoramic views, you will heavily rely on the interior design of your vacation rental. The more energy and effort you put into planning and implementing the design, the more thriving your Airbnb will be. Here are factors to consider:

Location Matters

If you’re furnishing a rental in the city center, it’s best to avoid a rustic, rural theme. In short, the theme should relate flawlessly to your surroundings. We can’t all reside near the beach or in the desert. The best thing is to describe your location innately and the qualities the area offers. Are these sunsets or sunrise magic moments? Explore our short-term rental data portal below. Our team can help you locate lucrative areas around Central Texas for short-term rentals. Get started today.

We compile & manage data on short term rentals located in Austin. Use the visualizations below to explore trend and find underserved areas.

Considering purchasing a property to use as a short term rental? Star by connecting with a local expert. We’ll help you pinpoint and procure lucrative STR investment opportunities. Start Today.


Consider the Design 

The design of your rental will determine the comfort the guests get. The core aim is to ensure a stay in Austin is awe-striking and cozy. For example, an Airbnb Austin with a pool is suitable for summer. You can also invest in a heated pool for the winter months.

When it comes to interior décor, stick with neutral colors that can be lifted with a piece of rug or art. Remember, floor design matters a lot. Focus on suitable floors, such as lovely tiles or oak flooring. Ensure the floorboards are polished and get beautiful rugs. 

Think about the storage and hanging spaces, even on tiny house rentals. 

Amenities Do Matter

Amenities play a vital role when guests are deciding where to stay. People crave convenience and comfort. And the more you offer these features in your rentals, the more attractive they become. 

Simple things like free parking, a fully equipped kitchen, swimming pool, WiFi, and a fitness facility can boost your rate. When this reflects on your listing, you’ll get frequent guests. 

Best Places for Airbnb in Austin, Texas

Austin is a hotspot of Airbnb business in the U.S. The City promises continued growth, making vacation rental a viable business. But there are best places where the Airbnb business can thrive better. These areas include:

Cedar Park 

If you’re looking for promising areas for STRs, Cedar Park, Texas, is an ideal place. It’s just outside downtown Austin, giving guests an exciting experience. More so, there is access to public transportation. This is where you can find the best affordable Airbnb Austin. 

Mainly, Cedar Park rentals are convenient for single-family vacations.

Reasons to own an Airbnb in Cedar Park include:

  • Relatively low crime rates
  • Cedar Park attracts families that need privacy
  • Great neighborhoods


Leander is another hotspot area for the vacation rental business. The region comprises large homes ideal for groups of friends and large families. The spacious homes are large enough to accommodate king and queen-sized beds and an ample living room with a dining area. In addition, it’s close to Lake Travis and booms with recreational activities, cultural opportunities, and amenities. 

The area is accessible to and from downtown Austin. It’s also located near major highways for easy transportation. 

East Cesar Chavez

East Cesar Chavez brings a mixture of commercial spaces and residential dwellings. Located between East Austin and Lady Bird Lake, the luxurious neighbor is perfect for rental investment. There are tons of businesses, shops, restaurants, and bars. 


Zilker is one of the most significant neighborhoods in the Texas capital. The area is full of outdoor activities, suitable for adults of all ages and kids. The guest can access Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool. Downtown is also a walking distance from Zilker. 

East Austin 

East Austin is a downtown district packed with bistros, restaurants, and cafes. It’s also the most beautiful neighborhood, with a high concentration of live music venues and hipster hangouts. Some homes are also close to the University of Texas. 

With so many options, it’s best to make your property stand out. Below are some examples of how your property can stand out in the crowd: Some top areas to invest in STR’s the City of Austin.

Tiny Houses in Austin, Texas

Immerse yourself in pure opulence in the tiny houses in Austin. The fantastic homes are not only comfortable but affordable too. The Beehive tiny house is a one-of-a-kind small rental located on the East Side. It’s crafted with upcycled materials and has an angular design to exemplify “Keep Austin Weird.” It’s a one-bedroom house featuring one bathroom and one bed. The open floor plan and stunning vaulted ceilings make the home inviting, spacious, and comfortable. The modern, clean cottage provides easy access to downtown, public transportation, SXSW venues, and excellent restaurants. 

The accommodation is full of modern amenities and ideal for four guests. It features a fully equipped kitchen, a private bathroom with all bath essentials, and it’s surrounded by natural light. There is also central heating, a BBQ grill, a patio with an inviting garden, and a TV with Netflix. The floor plan is open to decrease clutter and maximize the space. You can also enjoy good vibes in a perfect, small shipping container. However, there is no chair or desk in the container house. So if you want to use your laptop, you can use the West Elm leather couch. But there are great coffee shops around, like Cherrywood Coffee House, Sour Duck, and Bennu, which can offer excellent workspace. 

The Urban Vintage tiny home is beautifully designed with stained concrete floors and comfortable furnishings. With 12-inch cedar plank ceilings, the rental seems even more prominent than it sounds. The guests will have access to a refrigerator, WiFi, free street parking, and air conditioning. The south Austin home is just a few minutes from the best bars and restaurants in the City. Within the neighborhood is the Riverside Golf Course and Secret Beach. 

A private cabin can be an ideal choice for those looking for serene, affordable places to stay in Austin. The secluded cabin is simply a fabulous and relaxing place with everything you need. Although tiny, it features a king-size bed, private bathroom, TV, and WiFi. In addition, it has a fully equipped kitchen and a shared pool to cool yourself during hot days in Austin, Texas. You would, however, need a car to access this home since it’s not near the City. 

Lake House Rentals 

Stay in convenient lake rentals in Austin. Book unique homes or condos on the shores, perfect for individuals and families. Everyone would enjoy the view of a large waterfront home designed with a rooftop deck. This rental overlooks the lake, and it has 13 beds to accommodate large groups. In addition, the ample space gives guests a chance to relax and unwind. It’s the perfect place for groups of couples or families. 

Cabin House Rentals

Ditch the typical hotel and embrace the ambiance of the natural setting by staying in cabin rentals. The artsy retreat is tucked on beautiful tree-lined streets. The one-bedroom cabin is close to Travis heights neighborhood. A TV with standard cable, WiFi, free street parking, and a pet-friendly home.  

The Mexican-Style house is another stunning cabin with three beds, one bath, and one bedroom. This cabin home’s hot tub is the highlight to allow guests to cool achy muscles. The toasty fire pit is remarkable for having a love talk between couples. 

Luxurious/Palatial House Rental 

Austin is not short of luxurious homes that can accommodate one or more than 12 guests. The cozy South Congress retreat comes with a heated saltwater pool, a private patio, and custom furnishings. 

You can also choose to invest in camper houses. As you can see, you will be spoiled of choices when investing in Airbnbs in the City of Austin. 

Working with a Reliable Local Real Estates Consultant is Highly Advisable

The City of Austin is bursting with a trendy atmosphere, incredible dishes, live music, and enthralling nightlife. Thus, it has become a favorite destination for travelers. However, you need to approach the idea of vacation rentals with keen understanding and caution. That’s why working with a local professional realtor is advised. 

The local real estate agents are knowledgeable about the transactions and jargon used in the Airbnb industry. They offer objective opinions and information with an unbiased eye. Risk is a fact of life, and estate agents minimize it by prescreening properties to ensure they’re fit for rental. You will also get invaluable advice on how to avoid fraudulent dealings. 

Therefore, choose a reliable real estate agent in Austin as you venture into the Airbnb business. Get started today.

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