Seven years ago my husband and I built our dream home in a nice neighborhood in Austin. When two large homes began construction on a single lot next door, we were bummed by how huge and close to us they were, but looked forward to having new neighbors in any case.
Once the homes were finished, we realized with horror that both were being used illegally as Airbnbs. Each home is nearly 3,000 square feet, five bedrooms, and hosts up to 14 people. Each unit has a hot tub that sits directly under our windows, less than twenty feet away from our home.
As soon as they began operating in October 2019, our lives were shattered. Groups of party goers began rotating through both units every weekend. Music, laughter, shouting and cursing came from both hot tubs at least once a week, usually more. A bachelor party brought prostitutes over and took turns having sex in the hot tub until 7:00 AM. Another group casually chatted at full volume about buying some cocaine for their party.
One of the units has two giant second-floor windows that directly overlook our property, including our outdoor spaces, and guests like to stand at those windows and watch us like we’re animals in a pen. If I were to list every instance of a disturbance, this post would be longer than the Old Testament.
Since October, we’ve filed 17 Code complaints, and called the police on five different occasions (though our police department is so understaffed, and noise complaints are so low-priority, they responded only once). We’ve written to our council member, neighborhood association, and exchanged several dozen emails with the Code Department.
After receiving multiple violations for operating illegally, and having their guests confronted by code officers, the investors applied for a license granted only to owner-occupied STRs, by claiming the units as their “primary residence”, and actually received them (for one). The Code Department admitted in an in-person meeting that they did not want to grant the license to these operators, and tried to find a way to deny it, but were forced to issue it according to regulations.
Today our nightmare continues. We can’t sleep in peace. Our privacy, comfort, health, and safety are completely compromised. I’m suffering anxiety-related health effects. We are at a point where either they stop hosting, or we will need to move. It’s terrifying to consider that we might actually lose our home over this, but the stress of living next to this nightmare is just not worth it.
I’ve been carpet-bombing Airbnb “neighbors” with complaints for months, but have received zero support. This week Airbnb actually “temporarily suspended” the listing, but the host just turned it back on immediately. When I asked Airbnb how this can qualify as a suspension, they said they can’t release details due to privacy reasons. We finally filed a case at the municipal court, and hope whatever comes of that succeeds in finally bringing us some relief.